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Knoch girls basketball team needs underclassmen to step up

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Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Knoch's Savanna Steffen attempts a shot during basketball practice Monday, November 25, 2013.
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Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, 11:09 p.m.

Knoch's preseason girls basketball practices have been well-attended, much to the satisfaction of coach Sean O'Donnell.

But the onslaught of participation has the fourth-year coach's mind churning. So many lineup possibilities, so little time.

Inexperience and larger numbers have given him options.

“We're trying to figure out who fits best with who,” O'Donnell said. “We have some good defenders and some girls who can score the basket. It's about feeling out the right combination. Part of me likes it this way. I love when it's wide open. It makes all of them better.”

Knoch was 5-17 last season and averaged 32 points. O'Donnell has to replace leading scorer Sam Logan (10 ppg), who graduated and is running track at Robert Morris.

Although O'Donnell admits the team could be offensively challenged, alterations to past schemes will be minimal.

“We're not going to scale things down,” the coach said. “We'll change some things but not a whole lot.”

The Knights might employ a slower, more deliberate style.

“As a whole, I think we'll end up better than last year,” O'Donnell said. “I think we have the pieces to maybe be more cohesive.”

Senior 5-foot-10 forward Savanna Steffen returns with plenty of varsity time, and Angela Cress, a 5-2 guard, also comes back along with junior guard-forward Abbie Thrower.

Knoch has a number of sophomores looking to make an impact, including forwards Alle Megahan and Maddie Canel and guard Alyssa Logan.

“We're getting there,” O'Donnell said. “We haven't seen the results in wins and losses, but there have been a lot of improvements. And interest is up.”

O'Donnell also expects juniors Erica Hunter and Mackenzie Rodgers and sophomore Emily Robb, a key defender, to see time.

Knoch often has a pep band at boys home games but rarely bangs the drums when the girls play. O'Donnell wants that to change, but he also wants unfiltered noise on the court.

“I want girls who are hard-nosed and want to win,” O'Donnell said. “But we need someone to be a leader. Our gym is too quiet. We need someone to make noise and take charge.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at

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