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Knoch boys basketball team producing from the inside out

| Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, 12:46 a.m.
Knoch High School's Austin Miller looks to pass the ball during basketball practice on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
Knoch High School's Dakota Bruggeman lines up a shot during basketball practice on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch

In an era where combo guards and swingmen have all but bumped post players off the end of the bench, Knoch is ready to buck the trend.

The Knights, under first-year coach Ron McNabb, are going to an old-school post-up game this season, taking advantage of their height and reminding fans points still can be scored in the paint.

While many teams are attacking with dribble-drives and motion offenses, Knoch will be looking to score with its back-to-the-basket guys.

“We're looking like more of an inside-out team,” said McNabb, who replaced Josh Shoop. “We've been blessed with three big, strong post guys. We might as well take advantage of that.

“Hopefully, that will help free up our perimeter guys.”

Six-foot-4 senior forward Dakota Bruggeman will call for the ball on the low block, along with 6-4 sophomore Matt Zanella and 6-3 senior Marc Vaughan.

Knoch's returning starters are Bruggeman, Vaughan and junior guard Austin Miller, who missed some time last year with a hand injury.

McNabb was hoping 6-3 junior Jim Larrimer also would help in the post, but Larrimer is out for the season with a knee injury sustained during football. But he believes depth will be a plus, potentially to the tune of nine deep.

Juniors David Gallagher and Chris Kier also should be key contributors. Both were junior varsity players last season. Add to the mix senior guards Alex Campbell and Ben Pfeiffer.

Miller and Gallagher are two of the team's top shooters.

McNabb has been a head coach at Valley and Burrell, and his staple, many argue, is defense. He'll still stress shutting down scorers, but in different ways.

“We may not be able to go man-to-man like I used to do,” McNabb said. “We'll be in more zones. Hopefully, by the halfway point of section play we'll be better in man.”

McNabb was an assistant at Plum for the past two years under Ron Richards, who gave McNabb extra responsibilities. That, the new Knoch coach said, has helped his return to the head coaching ranks.

“He let me run practices and do a lot of things,” McNabb said. “It's good to be the head guy again. There's a lot more to do, like watching a lot more film, but I feel back in the swing of things.”

Knoch was 10-13 last season but made the playoffs out of Section 1-AAA with an 8-6 mark, good enough for third place.

The Knights lost, 66-53, to Indiana in the preliminary round.

A math teacher at Knoch for more than 20 years, McNabb already had familiarity with the players.

His assistants are former Burrell girls coach Brian Sharick, former Burrell player Mike Fantuzzo and former Knoch standout guard Michael Gallagher.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-224-2696 or

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