PIAA Class AAAA Play-In Wrap (3-9-10)

To view action photos of the North Penn/Wyoming Valley West girls’ basketball game, visit the Photo Gallery. 

PIAA Class AAA Girls’ Basketball Play-In Game
North Penn 51, WyomingValley West 39
Shannon Knauer has quietly contributed to the success of this year’s North Penn squad, and with her team’s season riding on the line recently, the Maidens’ senior captain has elevated her game.
In last Friday night’s must-win game against Spring-Ford for the ninth and final berth in the state tournament, Knauer had nine points and seven rebounds in the second half to break a halftime tie and lead the Maidens to a big 49-39 win.
In Tuesday night’s PIAA play-in game against Wyoming Valley West, she was back at it again, this time contributing 12 points in North Penn’s 51-39 win.
“We moved her down to the post when Taylour (Alston) was in foul trouble,” coach Maggie deMarteleire said. “She knows the next loss will be her last game, and she’s really, really stepped up.
“Before we moved her down low, she had two three’s in the third quarter. Then I had to move her to the post, and she did a good job rebounding again and did a good job defensively. She’s just like a quiet leader, and she leads by example.”
The win vaulted Knauer and her teammates to a place they’ve never been before – the opening round of the state playoffs where they will face District 3 champion Central Dauphin.
“This is a huge accomplishment as far as never being in states our first two years, and to do this our senior year is huge,” she said. “I’ve been trying to hit my shots, and we’ve been working the ball around and crashing the boards, which was a huge goal of ours.”
Knauer is not unfamiliar with playing the low post – it used to be her home until her younger sister Steph, who is several inches taller, inherited the job last season. Shannon is the Maidens’ starting three guard.
“Shannon has really stepped up when we’ve needed her to step up, and that’s what good athletes do – they step up when they’re needed the most,” deMarteleire said. “I’m really happy for her.”
Steph Knauer ensured that the Maidens would get off to a quick start, scoring 11 of her game-high 17 points in the opening quarter as the Maidens jumped out to a 13-7 lead. By halftime, North Penn’s lead had grown to 24-14. The Maidens blew the game wide open with a 16-8 third quarter to go into the final quarter with a 40-22 lead.
Dara Nelson contributed eight points, which included a five-for-seven effort at the foul line.
“Dara had a good game,” deMarteleire said. “We played really good defense, and we took care of the ball.”
In Friday night’s opening round game, the Maidens will face Central Dauphin at Lebanon High School at 8 p.m.
“I think we need to work hard at practice this week and really step it up, but it’s exciting,” Shannon Knauer said.
PIAA Class AAAA Boys’ Basketball Play-In Game
Hazleton 58, Council Rock North 55
Council Rock North’s gutsy run through the postseason came to an end on Tuesday night when the Indians fell to Hazleton 58-55 in a tightly-contested affair.
The Indians actually took a 43-41 lead into the final quarter when they were outscored by their visitors 17-12.
“Hazleton did a great job fighting through a tough early stretch,” coach Derek Wright said. “I thought we had an opportunity early in the game to set the tone for the game but didn’t get a good lead. We just didn’t execute, and that gave them a lot of chances to get back in the game, which they took advantage of.
“They fought real hard and really matched or exceeded our intensity, so I have to give them credit.”
The Indians led 17-13 at the end of one quarter and took a tenuous 18-16 lead into the intermission. The two teams matched baskets in the third quarter, but Hazleton prevailed in the final frame, bringing to an end a postseason that saw the Indians win four straight to earn a spot in Tuesday’s play-in state playoff game.
“I think what characterized our stretch run was that we fought hard,” Wright said. “The last two games, in particular, we didn’t play very well, but our effort and our intensity and our focus got us through those tough shooting games.
“Tonight we couldn’t overcome that.”
Senior Andrew Stress and sophomore Arron Goodman lead the Indians with 10 points each.
Hazleton will face District 3 champion Reading in Saturday’s opening round state tournament game.