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Knoch boys end season with consolation loss to Montour

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KENNEDY TWP — The curtain dropped on Knoch’s season with a 70-58 defeat against Montour in Tuesday night’s WPIAL Class 4A seventh-place consolation playoff game.

Directly after, Knights coach Alan Bauman started looking ahead to next year’s production.

“At a time like this, we’ve got to focus on what we accomplished,” he said. “We won 15 games, where last year we won eight. We were one game away from the PIAA playoffs. We need to understand we did a lot of good this year and now we need to turn and build on that.”

On the road, Knoch (15-11) couldn’t maintain the scorching pace it began with. Sophomore starters Teegan Finucan, Jackson Bauman, Zane Pacek, and Zachary Szebalskie combined to connect on seven of the team’s first eight tries from the floor. Vincent DeFelice was fouled on a three-point attempt from the left corner with 2:18 left in the opening frame and sank two of his three free throws, giving the Knights a 17-9 lead.

“I thought we were in a great rhythm offensively,” Coach Bauman said. “We did a lot of good stuff with our sets. Everyone was touching the basketball. I thought in the second quarter we get too one-on-one. We weren’t advancing the ball against the press, we did some dumb stuff, and then our transition defense tonight just wasn’t there.

“We weren’t alert, they were leaking guys, and we weren’t getting guys back. I thought that was the big difference.”

The hiccups mentioned allowed the Spartans (21-5) to embark on an 11-0 run, with 6-foot-11 junior Ama Sow accounting for all but two of those tallies. Sow matched Knoch’s output in the second quarter. His basket 1:54 into the second gave his team a permanent lead.

Sow finished with a game-high 30 points, including three treys. Senior Jake Wolfe, who’s headed to play quarterback at Robert Morris University, added 17 points.

“We’re kind of a slow-starting team normally,” Montour coach Bill Minear said. “The last three games, we haven’t been up at the end of the first quarter. We didn’t panic today. We kind of stayed within the game plan. I thought our pressure wore them down a little bit.”

The Spartans kept with their pace for all of the final 16 minutes, while switching presses and who was checking the younger Bauman, who paced Knoch with 16 points on the night.

Jacob Fox and Zarian Finucan are the only players that the team will graduate this spring. Knoch’s starting four consisted of four sophomores and junior Kaden Spencer.

“We’ve got everyone back,” Coach Bauman said. “We didn’t have Derek (Lang) tonight. ...That was a big loss. Derek was playing phenomenal for us.”

Freshmen Roman DeFelice (eight points), Liam Avon (5), Brody Bauman (2) all contributed for the Knights in the loss. Their classmate, Jackson McCool, had a brief stint on the hardwood, too.

“That’s a great team,” Minear said. “They’re going to be good next year. I’m glad we’re moving to 5A.”

Coach Bauman appreciated the opportunity to go against three of the top five seeds in the tournament, adding that it shows his group what it takes to raise a trophy.

“We need to now do the little stuff to go win a championship,” he stressed. “We need to get in the weight room. We need to get every loose ball. Everyone needs to step up. We’ve got a taste of it, now we’ve got to go and really get after it this spring and summer.

“The future’s bright but we can’t settle.”

KNOCH 58

Jackson Bauman 6 2-3 16, Teegan Finucan 4 1-1 10, Roman DeFelice 3 0-0 8, Zane Pacek 3 0-0 6, Vincent DeFelice 1 2-3 5, Liam Avon 2 0-1 5, Kaden Spencer 2 0-0 4, Zachary Szebalskie 1 0-0 2, Brody Bauman 0 2-2 2. Totals: 22 7-10 58.

MONTOUR 70

Ama Sow 13 1-2 30, Jake Wolfe 4 8-10 17, Kaleb Platz 3 2-2 9, A.J Ashton 3 1-2 8, Jaxon Camp 2 0-0 4, Trey Hopper 1 0-0 2. Totals: 26 12-16 70.

Knoch 17 13 9 19 — 58

Montour 16 22 18 14 — 70

3-point goals: Knoch 7 (Bauman 2, R. DeFelice 2, Finucan, V. DeFelicem, Avon); Montour 6 (Sow 3, Ashton, Platz, Wolfe).

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