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Knoch downs Mars for first win of hoops season

Group Effort
Knoch’s CeCe Kosecki, right, steals the ball from Mars in a non-conference game at Mars High School Tuesday night. Kosecki had 11 points, eight rebounds, and a steal as the Knights won, 38-36. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle

ADAMS TWP — The result was more so what first-year Knoch head coach Shane McGraw cared about than the score.

After quelling an early-second half surge by Mars, his Knights held their hosts off late and limited them to just 14 points over the final 16 minutes. By the time the Planets failed to get off a final try, McGraw earned his first win as a head coach — and Knoch its first of the new campaign — in a 38-36 decision.

“We play a lot of defense at practice,” McGraw said. “Coach Chris Andreassi, my predecessor, kind of set a culture of, ‘We play defense at Knoch.’ We’ve carried that over this year. These girls know how to play defense and they take pride in it. They locked down.”

Mars (2-1) bucketed the first four points of the third frame, as Cecelia Christy’s basket gave her side its first — and only — lead of the contest. Vita Vargo knocked down two of three from the free throw line after being fouled from behind the arc nearly half a minute later.

The Planets would only add to its score once in the following 10:24, turning the ball over six times in that same span. Vargo would end that drought and make it 34-30 with 4:19 to play. She’d pull Mars within a basket two minutes later, but they were unable to surpass the Knights.

“I think we all know we have a lot of talent on this team,” Planets coach Zach Stitt said. “It’s about meshing it together right now. I think towards the end of that game we did a lot of things that we saw last Saturday against Mercyhurst Prep. We were down, I think, as many as five or seven last week with under a minute left and we battled back — and we were fortunate to get that win.

“Tonight, it didn’t go quite as well.”

The Knights (1-2) jumped out to an 8-1 advantage at the outset by scoring on three of their first four possessions, including treys by Neah Ewing and Adah Fuller. The hosts would climb back even using an 8-0 charge over a 1:11 span, with Alexis Cashdollar’s coast-to-coast layup knotting it up at 15.

The scoreboard would also level at 18, but Knoch went into the halfway point with a 23-22 advantage thanks in part to no turnovers in the second quarter.

“The girls were locked in tonight, just playing their game,” McGraw said. “I think we were a little tentative all weekend. ... Tonight, we just let it rip.”

That wasn’t particularly the case on the other side.

“Overall tonight, I just don’t think we played our best basketball offensively and defensively,” Stitt said. “I don’t think we moved the ball well as well tonight as we had for the last week and a half or so. I thought we were a bit stagnant. ... At times, our shot selection and pass selection was a bit off.”

Knights senior Cece Kosecki led all scorers with 11 points on the night and added eight rebounds and a steal. Junior Karlee Buterbaugh also flirted with a double-double, chipping in with seven points and eight boards. The latter also had an assist and four steals.

“Really, I think we just fed off of CeCe tonight coming in,” McGraw said. “The way she’s defending the ball, wanting the ball offensively to get us in our sets. Karlee did a great job getting it off the glass.

“I’m just so proud of everybody. It was a total team effort. ... You hold Mars into the 30s, yeah, that’s a total team defensive effort.”

Vargo had nine points for Mars. Cashdollar had nine, seven rebounds, and an assist.

“I think we showed some good heart to fight, to get back into it,” Stitt said. “But I don’t necessarily know that that fight or that effort was there early enough for us.”

Knoch 15 8 8 7 — 38

Mars 10 12 6 8 — 36

KNOCH 38

CeCe Kosecki 3 4-9 11, Neah Ewing 2 3-4 8, Adah Fuller 2 2-4 7, Karlee Buterbaugh 3 1-4 7, Naturelle Ewing 2 0-0 5. Totals: 12 10-21 38.

MARS 36

Vita Vargo 2 5-9 9, Alexis Cashdollar 4 1-3 9, Carmella McDole 3 1-2 8, Cecelia Christy 3 0-0 7, Mya Moore 1 1-4 3. Totals: 13 8-18 36.

3-point goals: Knoch 3 (Kosecki, Na. Ewing, Ne. Ewing); Mars 2 (McDole, Christy)

Knoch’s Naturelle Ewing, middle, squeezes through as she gets fouled by Mars’ Carmela McDole and Cecilia Christy in a non-conference game at Mars High School Tuesday night. The Knights won, 38-36. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
Knoch’s Karlee Buterbaugh steals the ball from Mars’ Vita Vargo in a non-conference game at Mars High School Tuesday night. The Knights won, 38-36. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
Knoch’s Abigail Hawk, right, fights for the ball with Mars’ Alexis Cashdollar in a non-conference game at Mars High School Tuesday night. The Knights won, 38-36. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
Knoch’s Naturelle Ewing and Karlee Buterbaugh fight for a loose ball with Mars’ Cecilia Christy in a non-conference game at Mars High School Tuesday night. The Knights won, 38-36. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
Knoch’s Neah Ewing celebrates after defeating Mars in a non-conference game at Mars High School Tuesday night. The Knights won, 38-36. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
Knoch’s Ada Fuller, left, fouls Mars’Cecilia Christy in a non-conference game at Mars High School Tuesday night. The Knights won, 38-36. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
Knoch’s Neah Ewing celebrates after defeating Mars in a non-conference game at Mars High School Tuesday night. Knoch won, 38-36. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
Knoch’s Neah Ewing celebrates after defeating Mars in a non-conference game at Mars High School Tuesday night. The Knights won, 38-36. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
Mars’ Ava Day, left, reacts after fouling out against Knoch in a non-conference game at Mars High School Tuesday night. The Knights won, 38-36. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle

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