ShareThis Page

Knoch defense stuns Indiana

Bill Beckner Jr.
| Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013, 12:45 a.m.

A couple of fans in the Knoch student section wore strands of multicolored holiday lights around their necks Friday night to get their team in the spirit — the spirit for an upset.

Led by a defensive effort that was as determined as it was oppressive, Knoch responded with flying colors, vanquishing Indiana, the No. 3-ranked team in WPIAL Class AAA, 52-37, before a raucous home crowd.

The court-storming win marked the first time the Knights had beaten Indiana in Section 1 play since the 2006-07 season.

Knoch (6-0, 3-0) stiff-armed a team averaging 63 points per game with a smothering man-to-man scheme that left Hampton feeling like it was wearing a scratchy, undersized wool Christmas sweater.

The Knights are allowing just 35.8 points per game, the lowest average in the WPIAL.

“Our defense kept us in it; it was 32 minutes of defense,” Knoch coach Ron McNabb said. “We feel if we hunker down and guard, we can play at our best. Our kids didn't put their heads down when we weren't shooting well and kept after it.”

Indiana (6-1, 1-1) shot 0 for 19 from 3-point range and never was allowed to play its uptempo style.

“We knew they were going to come in and pressure the ball and sag the back side,” Indiana coach Greg Lezanic said. “They took away our dribble penetration.”

Senior guard David Gallagher scored 15 of his game-high 20 points in the second half, which saw the offense pick up for Knoch. The Knights trailed 7-5 after the first quarter, and the teams were tied 17-17 at halftime.

Knoch, though, pulled in front 36-29 heading to the fourth after three third-quarter 3s by Gallagher.

“When I was growing up, I was always taught to keep shooting, even if you're having a bad night,” Gallagher said. “You have to have a short-term memory. I kept telling myself to keep shooting.”

Senior point guard Austin Miller added 13 points, including three 3s, and junior forward Matt Zanella scored 12 for Knoch, which outscored the Indians, 16-8, in the fourth quarter.

Jim Larrimer's putback, a cutting drive by Zanella and a top-of-the-key 3 by Gallagher pushed the advantage to 46-34 with 3:33 left in the fourth.

“I thought (Gallagher) looked confident (Thursday) in practice,” McNabb said. “Zanella and Larrimer did a tremendous job on the boards.”

Indiana's only highlight of the second half was a breakaway dunk by Riley Stapleton, but his team still trailed by double figures after the jam.

“We like to play zone,” Lezanic said. “It doesn't matter if you're an NBA team, a high school team or a third-grade team, you have to have the lead to be able to dictate your defense.”

Knoch struggled to make free throws, converting 8 of 21 from the line. Although, to their credit, the Knights went 6 of 8 inside the final minute-plus to salt it away.

“We wanted to slow them down and do what we do,” Miller said. “It was all about our help defense. We knew what was coming; we played our game.”

Junior guard Kevin Jack led Indiana with 11 points. Senior 6-foot-5 forward Darrious Carter, a Temple football recruit, was held to two.

Knoch still has one more game before its holiday break commences. And another ranked opponent awaits. Quad-A No. 1 Hampton (6-0) visits Knoch on Monday.

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

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.