Kittanning boys basketball team claws past Knoch
If there's a portion of Tuesday night's game that the Knoch boys basketball team would like back, it would be the final 1:17 of the first period.
Kittanning turned three Knoch turnovers into seven points to end the quarter. It provided the Wildcats with enough of a cushion to withstand Knoch's fourth-quarter rally and post a 59-49 victory in Section 1-AAA at Lt. Charles Hutchinson Gym.
The victory keeps Kittanning (13-2, 6-2) one-half game behind Indiana for second place in the section. Knoch (9-6, 4-4) leads Freeport by a full game in the race for fourth place.
With the Knights in front, 10-8, miscues led to a 3-pointer by Kevin Barnes and two baskets by Sterling Henry to give the Wildcats the lead for good.
Kittanning, on the other hand, didn't commit a turnover in the opening period and only had eight miscues in the game.
“That was a key — we started strong,” Kittanning coach Bill Henry said.
“When we don't turn the ball over, we can take advantage of that. In the past, we came out with some jitters in the big games. But eight turnovers, that's fantastic for us.”
“They were careless turnovers, and turnovers we haven't had,” Knights coach Ron McNabb said. “We have done a very good job taking care of the basketball, but we were careless with the ball and we dug ourselves a little hole there.”
Kittanning eventually built its lead to 45-31 with 14 seconds left in the third quarter, but a 3-pointer by Knoch junior Austin Miller gave the Knights momentum.
David Gallagher's third 3-pointer sustained the Knoch rally, and a foul shot by Chris Kier cut the Wildcats lead to 48-44 with 3:17 to go.
Sterling Henry was called for elbowing Kier on an inbounds play, and Kier sank one of two free throws.
Kittanning's Noah Kunst scored on a putback and in the next sequence, a loose ball in the key caromed off three Knoch players right to Henry alone on the left side of the Wildcats' hoop to make it 52-44.
“I loved the way we battled, but we got too far behind,” McNabb said.
“This is 1-triple-A basketball; everyone's got a run in them,” Bill Henry said. “You've got to be ready for it. We made a couple of mistakes there near the end, but we made some big shots.”
Sterling Henry led Kittanning with 17 points, and Vince Mead pulled down nine rebounds. Barnes had eight assists, including two big ones in the fourth period.
Miller and Gallagher each had 12 points for the Knights.
George Guido is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.