Kittanning’s defense paves way to victory
LEECHBURG — During Wednesday night’s non-section matchup between Kittanning and Leechburg, a person dressed as Batman ran onto the court twice while the teams were in huddles.
Not even a super hero could save Leechburg, as Kittanning won, 50-48, in overtime.
Leechburg’s Steve Predebon scored his career 1,000th point, but the night belonged to Kittanning’s defense, which held the Blue Devils to 15.2 points below their season average.
“This isn’t the kind of night you want to get it on,” Predebon said of reaching the milestone. “It was nice to get it at home, though.”
Kittanning (3-13) snapped a four-game losing skid. But the Wildcats almost let this one slip away. Ahead 41-30, with 6:51 remaining in regulation, they committed eight turnovers and let the Blue Devils rally to tie the game.
Nick Matviko, playing in his first game since Dec. 29, was fouled while making a layup with 1:27 left in the fourth quarter. The bucket moved Leechburg within two, 43-41.
Matviko, who had been out with mononucleosis, missed the free throw. But Predebon grabbed the rebound and went back up with it, tying the score.
Neither team took advantage of scoring opportunities in the final minute, and the game went into overtime.
Matviko and Predebon each finished with 15 points.
“Fourth quarter, we panicked a little bit,” Kittanning coach Doug Flanders said. “I think a lot of this win attributes to games earlier in the year where we’ve been close. We’re learning. This is the first time we’ve broken through.”
Jared Bowser made layups on the Wildcats’ first two possessions in overtime, and Kittanning’s defense took over. The Blue Devils had just one field goal in the extra period until Matviko drained a long-range 3 with 4 seconds left.
Leechburg (7-7) didn’t have any timeouts, and time expired as Kittanning inbounded the ball.
“I’ve said it all year, ‘As long as our defense is good, we’ll be in the game.’ And, we held them to 48 points,” Flanders said.
Bowser ended the game with 12 points, all of which came after halftime. He scored eight points during a 19-2 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters.
“This was big for us,” Bowser said. “We’ve been struggling a little bit with trying to stay focused and play hard.”
Andrew Snyder scored 15 points for Kittanning in his third game back after suffering a broken hand. Cody Metro added 12 points for the Wildcats.
Kittanning dominated the boards, holding Leechburg to just six offensive rebounds. The Wildcats won the battle of the boards, 32-18.
“They did a nice job boxing out on defense,” Leechburg coach Damian Davies said of Kittanning. “Normally, we’re a pretty good rebounding team. But with that kind of a team, they were just bigger and stronger than us.”
For both teams, it was the second game in as many nights. However, for the Blue Devils, it was their second overtime game in two days.
“Two games, back-to-back, especially in overtime, I think we were pretty worn down,” Predebon said.