Knoblauch leads Raiders past Lehighton
Tamaqua’s Nathan Gregoire tries to drive past Lehighton’s Alex Schwab. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Brayden Knoblauch accounted for almost all of Tamaqua’s first quarter offense — and then he stepped his game up to an even higher level.
Knoblauch led the Raiders in points, rebounds and assists in a 69-46 Schuylkill League victory over Lehighton on Friday.
“We had no answer for Knoblauch,” said Lehighton coach Trevor Miller. “We probably used four different defenses, but he seemed to find a way to hurt us no matter what defense we were playing.
“I don’t think he missed a shot in the first quarter, and then when we started closing out on him better, he made some great passes to create points for their other kids. He’s not only one of the best players in the league, he might be the most valuable player in the league. He definitely makes them go.”
Miller was right about Knoblauch’s first quarter as he went 5-for-5 from the floor, including three three-pointers. He also added an assist in the quarter as he had a part in 15 of Tamaqua’s 17 points.
Knoblauch finished the game with 22 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.
“Brayden has really started strong the last couple of games,” said Tamaqua coach Jim Barron. “He did that again tonight and we needed it because as a team we were sloppy in the first quarter.
“We turned the ball over way too much and also let Lehighton hurt us in the paint and on the boards. We did a much better job in those two areas after the first quarter, and although Brayden didn’t score as much as he did in the first quarter, I thought he did a great job of passing the ball and rebounding, which allowed us to pull away.” Leading 17-15 after one quarter, thanks to Knoblauch’s buzzer-beating three-pointer, Tamaqua outscored the Indians 17-4 in the second period to take control of the game. Lucas Gregoire, who also had a huge game for the Raiders (9-3; 4-2) with 19 points and 13 rebounds, had seven points to lead the second-quarter offense.
Despite shooting just 4-for-18 from the floor in the opening quarter, the Indians (4-9; 2-4) were still in the game. But a 1-for-18 shooting performance in the second quarter was too much for them to overcome.
“I thought we ran our offense well and I thought we got some pretty good looks,” said Miller. “But we’ve had trouble finishing all year and that was especially true tonight.
“We need to do a better job around the basket and we need to knock down open jumpers. As a coach, you’ve got to be pleased to get 18 shots in a quarter, but we need to be better converting those shots into points.”
Tamaqua’s lead never dipped below 14 points in the second half as Knoblauch and Gregoire combined to keep the Indians from ever making a serious run.
“This is a nice win for us,” said Knoblauch. “It was a bit of a rough start, but we picked it up in the second quarter.
“My shot was falling early and then when they started running at me, it was leaving other guys open and we were able to take advantage of that. We had a lot of different players contribute to the win.”
ADDISON WAS AWESOME ... One player who was immune to Lehighton’s offensive struggles was Addison Howland. Howland was virtually the Indians’ entire offense during the first half, scoring 16 of his team’s 19 points. At one point in the third quarter, Howland had 20 of the Indians’ 23 points. He finished with team-high totals of 22 points and 10 rebounds.
COLD AS ICE ... Lehighton was just 13-for-65 from the floor (20 percent). The high number of shots was in large part due a great night of offensive rebounding by the Indians, who had 11 in the first half and 16 in the game.
TURNING OFF THE TURNOVERS ... Thanks to an aggressive, trapping Lehighton defense, Tamaqua committed eight first-quarter turnovers. But the Raiders were able to tighten up their ball security and committed just four turnovers over the final three quarters. “We were forcing some things early and we weren’t very strong with the ball against their traps,” said Barron. “Once we stopped turning the ball over, we were able to start stretching our lead.”
Bonetsky 1-3-6-5, Stianche 3-0-0-7, Griffin 1-0-0-2, Mateyak 1-0-0-2, Knoblauch 8-2-2-22, Bolletino 0-0-0-0, Zehner 2-1-4-5, Gutierrez 0-0-0-0, Agosti 0-0-0-0, N. Gregoire 1-0-0-3, L. Greoire 6-7-8-19, Stauffenberg 1-2-2-4. TOTALS: 24-15-22-69
Strauss 0-0-0-0, Heery 0-0-0-0, Acosta 0-0-0-0, Hunsicker 2-1-2-6, Crum 4-5-6-16, Smith 0-0-0-0, Beatty 0-0-0-0, Haydt 0-0-0-0, Schwab 0-0-0-0, Howland 6-8-11-22, Yturrino 1-0-0-2, Lutz 0-0-0-0, Potts 0-0-0-0, Schatz 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 13-14-19-46.
Tamaqua 17 17 18 17 - 69
Lehighton 15 4 14 13 - 46
Three-pointers: Tamaqua - Knoblauch 4, Stianche 1, N. Gregoire 1. Lehighton - Crum 3, Howland 2, Hunsicker 1.