ShareThis Page

Kittanning uses 3rd-quarter surge to down Freeport

| Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, 11:42 p.m.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Kittanning's Noah Spang reacts to sinking a three pointer against Freeport during their game at Kittanning High School on Friday, January 31, 2014.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Freeport head coach Mike Beale and player Kris Kepple react to a call against them during their game against Kittanning at Kittanning High School on Friday, January 31, 2014.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dis
Kittanning's Eric Hulings (45) fouls Freeport's Josh Beale (42) as they battle for a rebound Friday, January 31, 2014, at Kittanning.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Kittanning's Noah Kunst (30) goes up for a shot against Freeport's Josh Beale (42) and Kris Keppel (5) during their game at Kittanning High School on Friday, January 31, 2014.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Freeport's Codey Digiacobbe (23) drives to the hoop between Kittanning's Corey Oresick (44) and Eric Hulings (45) during their game at Kittanning High School on Friday, January 31, 2014.

Kittanning is on the verge of qualifying for the WPIAL playoffs in three straight seasons for the first time in school history.

The Wildcats edged closer to securing a Class AAA playoff berth with a 72-61 victory over Freeport on Friday night at Lt. Charles Hutchinson Gym.

Noah Kunst's career-high 28 points and a 20-4 third-quarter surge by Kittanning led to the victory.

Kittanning (7-11, 4-6) has a one-game lead over Highlands in the race for the fourth and final playoff spot from Section 1-AAA.

The magic number for the Wildcats is one. Any Kittanning win or a Highlands loss sends Kittanning to the WPIAL postseason, which starts Feb. 14.

With the Wildcats ahead 32-31 at halftime, Kittanning started the third quarter with a 14-2 surge to take control of the game.

“We had the ball to start the (second) half,” Wildcats coach Bill Henry said. “I just stressed at halftime that every possession counts on offense or defense, and we were able to build on the lead. We held them to one shot. That was the key.”

Kunst and center Eric Hulings each contributed eight points in the third period.

Freeport defeated Kittanning, 65-40, in early January.

“Coming into this game, all I was thinking was revenge,” Kunst said.

“They beat us at their place. I got three fouls right at the beginning of the game. That just took me right out of my game. I said this time, I'm going to play my game and lead our team to victory.”

The Kittanning offense was adept in getting space for Kunst to shoot.

“We just like to set a lot of screens, and Noah's good at using those screens,” Henry said. “He sees the screen, he knows what side to cut from.”

The Wildcats led 52-35 at the end of the third quarter.

“They switched up defenses quite a bit in the third quarter,” Yellowjackets coach Mike Beale said. “Josh Beale got lost in the shuffle. We got him a little bit more involved later.”

A 3-point field goal by Mason Eddinger brought the Yellowjackets to within 62-56, but Freeport couldn't get any closer.

Freeport fell to 8-10, 2-8 in Section 1 and is all but mathematically out of the playoff running.

“We said the playoffs start for us tonight,” Beale said. “Kunst just really hurt us. We knew going in what he was capable of doing. Defensively, we didn't have an answer for him. We shot well early, but you have to make your foul shots, and we missed a couple of layups.”

Codey DiGiacobbe had a season-high 19 points to lead Freeport, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Eddinger added 15.

Kunst also led Kittanning with 10 rebounds.

“I just love the student support we get with Jubilaition Nation,” Kunst said. “I really appreciate being part of that for three years.”

DiGiacobbe dished out nine assists and Josh Beale had seven Freeport rebounds.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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.