Knoch rallies from early deficit to take down Indiana in section action
Monday, January 20, 2020 | 10:58 PM
With just three minutes gone in Monday’s Section 1-4A matchup at Knoch, the Indiana girls basketball team held a 10-2 lead and hoped to take control.
But the Knights shook off their slow start and made their move.
Eleven minutes of game time later, Knoch was in front by 18. The Knights held that advantage at the break and rolled on to a 62-43 win to keep pace with North Catholic and Freeport in the section standings.
“We just needed to stay calm,” said sophomore Madilyn Boyer, who finished with a team-best 18 points to go along with seven rebounds.
“It was still early, and we knew we needed to have a quick, energetic response. (Freshman) Nina Shaw hit an important three, and everyone did their part.”
Knoch improved to 10-5 overall and 7-2 in section play, one game behind Freeport (8-1) for second place behind section leader North Catholic (9-0).
Monday’s game against Indiana was a different story from the first time around when the Knights needed a pair of free throws from senior Lauren Cihonski with 1.2 seconds left to earn a 39-37 win.
“The first time, we got off to a fast start, and then got into foul trouble,” Knoch coach Chris Andreassi said. “It turned into a half-court game. We wanted to make it a full-court game and speed up the tempo. When we got down early, we were able start scoring, and that did pick up the pace of the game. We needed those first couple of baskets to get going.”
Knoch held a slim 19-17 lead after the first quarter behind seven points from Shaw and six more from Boyer.
The Knights defense then clamped down. Knoch started to flip the rebounding advantage at both ends of the court and went on a 16-0 run over the first six minutes of the second quarter.
Boyer hit a 3-pointer at the 5:34 mark to put Knoch ahead 26-17, and she went on to add seven points in the quarter en route to a game-best 18 points.
“This was a huge team win,” Boyer said. “We prepared so hard for this game. This is going to keep us good playoff position.”
Knoch led by as much as 23 late in the third quarter, but Indiana didn’t fold its tent.
Indians sophomore Hope Cook scored five of her team-best 18 points during an 8-0 run that extended into the early part of the fourth quarter.
Indians freshman Even Fiala got the run started with a rebound and a jumper. The 6-foot-3 forward finished right on her season averages with 16 points and 17 rebounds.
“(Cook and Fiala) are just so good,” Andreassi said. “I don’t think they had their best nights, but they were still pushing 20 points. They are tough to stop.”
The Indiana run came to an end as Cihonski hit a fade-away jumper from the left wing at the 5:35 mark of the fourth. Fiala made a leaping attempt to get a hand in front of the shot, but she made contact with Cihonski, who watched the ball touch nothing but the bottom of the net as she crashed to the floor.
“We had to be ready with no excuses because of how big this game was,” Cihonski said. “Out on that court, we kept up everyone’s energy. Everyone did their part, and everyone contributed. It was a huge team game tonight.”
Knoch, which committed just three turnovers for the entire game, built the lead back to 20 with a couple of minutes left, and Andreassi then started to empty the bench.
“Their guards were just quicker than ours,” Indiana coach Dave Woodall said. “Things were going well for us early, and then Knoch was hitting every shot. They just played better than us tonight.”
Cihonski scored nine of her 13 points in the second half, and she scrapped under the boards for nine rebounds.
Shaw recorded a season-high 15 points, with 11 coming in the first half.
Senior Abbey Shearer, despite foul trouble at a couple of points during the game, finished with eight points, and junior Nevaeh Ewing, who hit a key 3-pointer during the second-quarter scoring spurt, ended with seven.
Knoch returns to action Tuesday at home against former section foe Deer Lakes before a section matchup Thursday at Greensburg-Salem.
“We’re taking nothing for granted right now,” Andreassi said. “The girls have to remain focused. It’s not going to be easy down the stretch.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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