Knoch uses second chances to top Kittanning
JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP — Knoch’s boys basketball team dominated the paint, scoring 25 second-chance points, and beat Kittanning, 59-45, on Friday night.
The loss was Kittanning’s 50th consecutive in Section 1-AAA. Knoch kept the Wildcats’ losing streak alive by winning the battle of the boards, 38-18. Kittanning’s last section win was Dec. 9, 2003, against Mars.
The Wildcats (2-2, 0-1) were outsized last night, as all of the Knights’ starters are at least 6-foot-1. Only one of Kittanning’s starters – Cody Metro – is over 6-foot.
“We knew they were going to run the sideline break. They had most of their shots from the right side,” Kittanning coach William Henry said. “We worked and talked about weak-side rebounding but Knoch just did a great job.”
Henry said his players struggled to mark the Knights on the weak-side. The Knoch player who gave the Wildcats the most problems was sophomore Jake McTighe, who pulled down nine first-half rebounds and finished with 10 to go along with a game-high 16 points.
Rob Briggs, a 6-foot-5 senior, added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Knights (3-1, 1-0).
“With Briggs, obviously, we’re watching him,” Henry said. “We knew McTighe was going to be a good rebounder, but he came in from such an angle that we weren’t used to that, to be honest.”
Knoch coach Chris Andreassi said he stressed rebounding to his team in practice Thursday.
“I didn’t know I was foreshadowing tonight, but I told them there are going to be nights where we don’t shoot the ball well, and rebounding is going to be the difference,” Andreassi said. “We have not rebounded well this year. Every team has strengths and weaknesses. We’re a little bit taller than most teams, and we have to play to that strength.
“We finally did that tonight.”
Including Briggs and McTighe, four of Knoch’s starters reached double figures. Michael Gallagher and Kyle Reiser each added 10 points.
Knoch went into halftime with a 29-19 advantage and extended its lead to 14 points twice in the third quarter. The Wildcats didn’t quit, though, cutting the Knights’ lead back to 10 points twice in the third period.
Kittanning cut its deficit to nine, 48-39, on a Tyler Baum 3 with 3:46 remaining in the game. On Knoch’s next possession, Briggs hit a 3 to put the Knights up by 12, 51-39.
Kittanning retaliated with two consecutive buckets. Cody Metro’s layup with 2:38 remaining pulled the Wildcats within eight, 51-43. That’s as close as Kittanning would get, though, as Knoch closed the game with an 8-2 run.
Andrew Snyder scored a team-high 13 points for Kittanning, while Metro added 11. Henry said he liked Snyder’s leadership against Knoch, and, in regards to the section losing streak, he said that he’s pleased with his team’s growth.
“I told the kids after the game, ‘You’re never encouraged by a loss,'” Henry said. “The one thing I am proud of, though, is the fact that I see improvement every day, and we’re headed in the right direction.”
Said Andreassi: “They’re going to win a game soon and break that streak. I’m just glad it wasn’t tonight.”