Knoch ‘enjoying the moment’ after rival Freeport’s win got them into WPIAL playoffs |
High School Basketball

Knoch ‘enjoying the moment’ after rival Freeport’s win got them into WPIAL playoffs

Doug Gulasy
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Knoch’s Nevaeh Ewing scores past Freeport’s Grace Soilis during their game Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, at Knoch High School.

Chris Andreassi didn’t buy Freeport’s girls basketball team any flowers for Valentine’s Day, but he seriously considered it. Especially after the thoughtful present Andreassi and his Knoch team got from the Yellowjackets last week.

Freeport’s win over Apollo-Ridge in a Section 1-4A finale Feb. 9 lifted Knoch into a tie for third place with Apollo-Ridge and Greensburg Salem, with all three teams qualifying for the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs. An Apollo-Ridge win would have kept Knoch (9-13) home for the postseason.

Although Freeport and Knoch are neighbors and rivals, all of the Knights were rooting for the Yellowjackets that night.

“There’s really a lot of respect, certainly from our girls to them,” Andreassi said. “It was strange, but it really wasn’t hard rooting for them. All things being equal, they’re easy girls to root for.”

Ellwood City reached the playoffs in a similar fashion — the Wolverines needed Beaver area to beat Mohawk on Feb. 9, and that happened.

In Knoch’s case, the Knights were playing a nonsection game against Armstrong that began while Freeport and Apollo-Ridge were in the second half of their game. Andreassi found out about Freeport’s win in the second quarter.

The Knights’ players didn’t want to know the result of Freeport’s game until after their own game ended, which Andreassi considers a sign of maturity from a team that broke in five new starters after making the playoffs last season.

“I told them anything that happens now is good for us,” said Andreassi, whose team received the No. 12 seed in Class 4A and will play No. 5 Elizabeth Forward at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Mt. Lebanon. “They’re all back next year, they’re learning the playoffs and they’re learning the kind of focus they need. … I told them to stop, take it all in, smell the roses, enjoy the moment and just go play basketball. We’re going there to win.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Doug at [email protected] or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.