Share This Page

Knoch pulls away from Highlands to stay unbeaten in Section 1-AAA

| Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, 11:24 p.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Knoch's Matt Zanella looks for an opening between Highlands' Tyler Alworth and (10) Lavontae Martin on Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, at Highlands.

Experience was key Friday night as Knoch remained undefeated in Section 1-AAA with a 47-33 victory over Highlands.

After the Knights held a pair of 12-point leads in the first half, the Golden Rams narrowed the gap to 26-23 with 4:55 left in the third quarter.

But Knoch embarked on a 13-0 run to put the game away.

Matt Zanella led the Knights with 18 points and seven rebounds.

Knoch is 9-1 and 4-0 in section play. Highlands, playing well lately with a young lineup, dropped to 4-7, 0-3.

The Knights had leads of 16-4 and 18-6 early in the second quarter before the Golden Rams began chipping away.

The second of two 3-pointers by sophomore Tyler Alworth brought Highlands to within 26-23, but Knoch went on a tear with five players scoring the 13 points to end the third quarter.

Highlands looked to break the momentum, but a basket by Brayden Thimons was waved off with a traveling call, and Stephen Oblich scored for Knoch on the other end for a four-point swing.

A basket by Austin Miller at the third quarter buzzer completed the surge.

“We do have great senior leadership,” Knights coach Ron McNabb said. “They didn't panic. We haven't been in a real close game in the last week or so, and we knew Highlands was going to present a big problem for us because they play hard and they play physical.”

Said Highlands coach Tyler Stoczynski: “I definitely thought that was a little bit of inexperience. What we constantly preach about is consistency and part of being consistent is having those older guys to look to when things get a little rocky.”

With just one senior and a junior in the starting lineup, Highlands doesn't have the luxury of upperclassmen Knoch has.

“When we get consistent, I feel we can play with anybody in our section, at times,” Stoczynski said. “Can we do it over the course of a full game? That's what we're trying to do.”

Zanella scored 14 of his 18 points in the first half.

Almost all of the 6-foot-4 junior's eight field goals were on entry passes near the hoop.

“We do a lot of those drills in practice,” Zanella said. “We're real close as a team, and that translates on to the court.”

Though Knoch's 9-1 start is its best in nine seasons, McNabb knew not to take Highlands lightly on what has been a tough floor for visitors to play on.

“I told the Highlands coach before the game that he's doing a great job with these guys,” McNabb said. “We're happy to get out of here with a win. I coached at Valley, Burrell, Knoch — it doesn't get any easier here.”

Said Zanella: “I don't know how many people expected this start, but everyone in this locker room expected good things this season.”

Senior Julian Flenory led Highlands with 11 points, and sophomore Thimons pulled down 11 rebounds.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.