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Kittanning girls hold on to topple Ford City

| Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, 11:06 p.m.

The strength of Ford City's girls basketball is on the interior, but Kittanning met the Sabers' challenge down low.

Tiffany Montgomery scored a game-high 14 points Monday night to help the Wildcats fend off a fourth-quarter charge by Ford City in a 35-31 nonsection victory over a fellow playoff-bound team at Ford City.

Emily Knepshield added eight points and four assists for Kittanning (14-5), which held Ford City leading scorer Ally Cujas without a point for the first three quarters. Cujas finished with eight points, and Christina Davis led the Sabers (12-7) with nine.

“They have a lot of talented players, but we just wanted to focus on Cujas,” Kittanning coach Janelle Kotyk said. “We tried to front her (in the post) and had kids on the back side to try and take away the lob. I thought our kids did a nice job trying to body her and limit touches.”

The post combination of Sydney Cloak and Emily Klingensmith did the bulk of the work defending Cujas, and the job they did led to Ford City's offense struggling for much of the game. Kittanning led by as many as 14 points and went into the final quarter with a 31-21 lead.

“They were physical with Ally, and it took her a little bit out of her game,” Ford City coach Al Davis said. “We need to set better screens. They were fronting her, and we wanted to get her to spin away from it or try to bring her out higher to get away from that.”

Cujas finally got going in the fourth quarter, and when she did, Ford City made a run.

Trailing 33-21 with 4 minutes remaining, Cujas scored all eight of her points in a 10-0 Ford City run that cut the lead to two as the clock ran under 20 seconds. But Knepshield, who missed her first three free-throw attempts, made two foul shots for Kittanning with 15.6 left, and Ford City was unable to score on its final possession.

“We got a little tight with the basketball in the fourth quarter and started to get a little bit nervous,” Kotyk said. “We couldn't get a lot of shots to fall in the second half, even though we were getting good looks.”

Catie Cujas gave Ford City a spark off the bench by handling point guard duties and adding six points, including the Sabers' only fourth-quarter basket not scored by her sister.

The Wildcats overcame a size disadvantage to keep the rebounding margin close — 33-30 in favor of Ford City.

Kittanning also was able to do some of its scoring damage from the outside, with three 3-pointers by Montgomery and one from Alaina Thomas, while Ford City was held without a 3-pointer.

“It was a fun game, and we fought the whole way through to come back,” Al Davis said. “They have nice shooting guards, and that's one position we have to improve.

“But we kept fighting, and that's really all you can ask for.”

The eight points scored by Knepshield give her 993 for her career. She will have a chance to surpass the 1,000-point mark Wednesday when Kittanning plays at Mars with second place in Section 1-AAA up for grabs.

The game ended with a police-ordered lockdown of the gym because of a robbery at nearby Ford City Tobacco. The teams, officials and fans were held inside for about 10 minutes before being allowed to leave.

It was the second straight home game for Ford City's girls basketball team to be marked by such an incident, after fans also were forced to stay inside after the Sabers' game Thursday against Apollo-Ridge.

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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