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Knoch girls respond to lone deficit in rolling to WPIAL playoff win

Seizing Control
Knoch's Neah Ewing attempts to get to the net during the WPIAL Class 4A girls basketball playoff game against Belle Vernon at Knoch High School on Tuesday night. The Knights won, 45-28. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle

JEFFERSON TWP — Knoch’s girls needed only one thing to jump-start their sluggish offense.

Fall behind.

Kenzi Seliga’s trey with 6:36 left in the first half gave the Leopards an 8-7 lead over the Knights in their WPIAL Class 4A playoff game Tuesday night at Knoch. The hosts went on a 19-1 run at that point, opened up a 26-9 lead and cruised to a 45-28 victory.

“I thought our offense might be a little rusty to start this game,.” Knoch coach Shane McGraw said. “We hadn’t played in 10 days and we’ve had girls out of the lineup with injuries and illness.

Knoch's Neah Ewing tries to prevent the ball from going out of bounds during a WPIAL Class 4A girls basketball playoff game against Belle Vernon at Knoch High School on Tuesday night. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle

“We always preach defense first here and we played good defense tonight. That gave us time until some of our shots started falling.”

Karlee Buterbaugh’s trey regained the lead for Knoch (14-9) at 10-8 early in the second quarter. Buterbaugh scored 10 of her team’s 13 points during the second quarter.

Knoch's Naturelle Ewing drives toward the net during the WPIAL playoff game against Belle Vernon at Knoch High School on Tuesday night. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)

“We were definitely struggling offensively early in this game,” Buterbaugh said. “The way it usually works with our team, though, is somebody hits a shot and the rest of the team joins in. That’s how it went tonight.

“We do take pride in our defense, though. We know when the other team has the ball, it’s serious time for us. We put a lot of time and work into our defense. The coaches make sure we do that during practice.”

Knoch's Adah Fuller defends during the WPIAL playoff game against Belle Vernon at Knoch High School on Tuesday night. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)

Belle Vernon did not score a field goal until seven minutes into the game. The Leopards (10-13) managed only two field goals in the first half. They took eight shots from the floor and had 16 turnovers in the first half.

While Belle Vernon lost for the fourth time in five games, the Knights won for the fourth time in five contests.

The Leopards had 25 turnovers on the night,.

Knoch's Adah Fuller passes the ball during the WPIAL playoff game against Belle Vernon at Knoch High School on Tuesday night. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)

“We knew that might be a problem coming in here,” Belle Vernon coach Kaitlyn Slagus said. “We have a young team and turnovers have hurt us this year. Knoch plays excellent pressure defense and gave us a lot of problems.

Knoch's Olyvian Foster drives the ball down the court during the WPIAL playoff game against Belle Vernon at Knoch High School on Tuesday night0. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)

“We start two freshmen and only have three seniors on our team. Knoch is a good team. They’ve got some shooters and work the ball around the court. We were flying around defensively trying to contain them and did for a while.”

Buterbaugh led the Knights with 14 points, four rebounds and three steals. Neah Ewing had 11 points, five assists, four steals and four rebounds.

Knoch's Karlee Buterbaugh scores during the WPIAL playoff game against Belle Vernon at Knoch High School on Tuesday night. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)

Naturelle Ewing contributed nine points, five rebounds and three assists. Abby Hawk had three steals, Adah Fulleer three assists.

“I was just happy to see some shots start to go in for us,” McGraw said after watching his team score seven points in the first quarter.

Knoch's Adah Fuller defends during the WPIAL playoff game against Belle Vernon at Knoch High School on Tuesday night. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)

A Lauren Bowser trey gave the Knights their biggest lead of the night at 43-20 with 5:27 to play.

Caroline Lee had 12 points and five rebounds for Belle Vernon. Seliga had seven rebounds and four steals.

Knoch's Adah Fuller keeps her eye on the ball during the WPIAL playoff game against Belle Vernon at Knoch High School on Tuesday night. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)

Knoch, the No. 6 seed in 4A, travels to No. 3 seed Elizabeth Forward on Friday night. Belle Vernon was the No. 13 seed.

BELLE VERNON 28

Knoch's Naturelle Ewing drives the ball down the court during the WPIAL playoff game against Belle Vernon at Knoch High School on Tuesday night. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)

Nina Francia 0-5 1-2 1, Abby Russell 0-4 0-0 0, Kenzi Seliga 1-3 0-0 3, Saylor Lee 1-2 5-11 7, Caroline Lee 5-11 2-2 12, Emerson LaCarte 1-3 0-0 3, Chessa Mertz 0-1 0-0 0, Arden Minniti 0-0 2-4 2. Totals: 8-26 10-19 28.

KNOCH 45

Knoch's Naturelle Ewing makes a layup during the WPIAL playoff game against Belle Vernon at Knoch High School on Tuesday night. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)

Adah Fuller 3-6 0-0 6, Neah Ewing 4-10 0-0 11, Karlee Buterbaugh 6-10 1-1 14, Naturelle Ewing 4-6 0-0 9, Aubrey Spencer 1-1 0-0 2, Olivia Foster 0-1 0-0 0, Lauren Bowser 1-3 0-0 3,. Abby Hawk 0-1 0-0 0, Savanna Hawk 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-38 1-1 45.

Knoch's Aubrey Spencer drives toward the hoop during the WPIAL playoff game against Belle Vernon at Knoch High School on Tuesday night. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)

Belle Vernon 5 4 7 12 — 28

Knoch 7 13 18 7 — 45

3-point goals: Belle Vernon 2 (Seliga, LaCarte), Knoch 6 (Ne. Ewing 3, Buterbaugh, Na. Ewing, Bowser)

Knoch's Naturelle Ewing and Belle Vernon's Emerson LaCarte get tangled up after battling for the ball during the WPIAL playoff game at Knoch High School on Tuesday night. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)

Friday: WPIAL 4A playoffs-Knoch at Elizabeth Forward

Knoch's Naturelle Ewing drives toward the net during the WPIAL playoff game against Belle Vernon at Knoch High School on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)
Knoch's Naturelle Ewing protects the ball from Belle Vernon's Nina Francia during the WPIAL playoff game at Knoch High School on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)
Knoch's Naturelle Ewing blocks during the WPIAL playoff game against Belle Vernon at Knoch High School on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)
Knoch's Neah Ewing evades Belle Vernon during the WPIAL playoff game at Knoch High School on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)
Knoch's Adah Fuller scores during the WPIAL playoff game against Belle Vernon at Knoch High School on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)
Knoch's Olyvian Foster passes the ball during the WPIAL playoff game against Belle Vernon at Knoch High School on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)
Knoch's Karlee Buterbaugh attempts to score during the WPIAL playoff game against Belle Vernon at Knoch High School on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)
Knoch's Adah Fuller drives toward the net during the WPIAL playoff game against Belle Vernon at Knoch High School on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle (2/20/2024)

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