Char Valley uses 17-point run to knock off Knoch
Knoch was coming back midway through the third quarter Tuesday night, cutting a 20-point lead to eight and forcing mighty Chartiers Valley to call a timeout to regroup.
Then, Knoch made a big mistake. It blinked.
In a whirlwind stretch, the top-seeded Colts scored 17 straight points, threw Knoch's momentum away like old athletic tape and cruised to a 77-43 victory in a WPIAL Class AAA first-round playoff game at North Allegheny.
“Just like that; that's what they are known for,” said Knoch senior forward Dakota Bruggeman, who scored a team-high 12 points. “They have that ability to hit the next gear.”
Chartiers Valley (20-3), in the playoffs for the 20th straight season, advanced to the quarterfinals, while Knoch ends a satisfying season at 12-12.
The Colts ended the third on a 20-2 spurt.
“The wheels fell off for us,” Knoch first-year coach Ron McNabb said. “I thought we came out and guarded them better in the second half, but they're a hard team to match up with. They can score so quickly.”
Knoch played well with the Colts earlier in the season, trailing by just three heading to the fourth quarter of a nonsection game that it lost, 65-51. This time, Chartiers Valley led, 60-34, with one period left.
The Class AAA favorite flexed its muscles.
Senior guard Mike Boulos and sophomore guard Matty McConnell combined to score as many points as Knoch. Boulos poured in 23 points, and McConnell had 20, including four 3-pointers. Boulos tallied 13 after halftime.
For as up-and-down and frantic as the Colts play, they took extra care of the basketball in their playoff opener. They surrendered just four turnovers.
“They can do it all,” McNabb said. “They're strong and quick. And I thought (6-foot-7 Spencer) Casson really asserted himself tonight.”
Casson added 13 points, including a dunk with three minutes to play.
McNabb already is eager to get ready for next season. Although he'll lose some key seniors, he can build on Knoch's preliminary-round win over Mt. Pleasant, the program's first postseason victory since 2006.
“I got this job a little late, in July, but our kids bought into the program from the start and never wavered,” McNabb said. “I like the way our kids battled all season.”
The teams combined for 12 3-pointers.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org .