Knights prevail over Pirates

Team starts off strong but is unable to win tournament

Denise White

The Knights opened up their tournament on Friday, Nov. 13th against the Porterville College Pirates.

Tip-off started at 5 p.m. with freshman center Leonard Allen going up against Pirates’ sophomore forward Dale Kirkland. Allen tipped the ball to sophomore guard Taylor Nelson who passed it to freshman forward Alex Wilbourn for the first two points of the game.

The Knights kept their momentum flowing, running post picks and making sure they were swinging the ball around the court to keep the Pirates defense moving. Allen gets the ball down low and makes a nice post move to get a shot and a foul. He sinks his free throw and the Knights move into a trap defense.

Nelson managed to steal the ball from the Pirates and makes a pass to sophomore guard Spencer Mattox, who was running the court with him and cut at the basket. Mattox makes his shot, bringing the score 9-4 Knights up with 14:30 in the first half.

Free throws appeared to be a key aspect of the game as both teams continued to foul each other throughout the night.

“We’ve got to make free throws,” Knights Head Coach Mitch Charlens mentioned. “Tonight we missed another 15 free throws.”

The Pirates tried to keep up as sophomore forward Dale Kirkland drove to the basket, making a hard dunk while getting fouled. He missed his free throw and the Knights got possession of the ball.

Tempers started to flare for the Pirates as they started to become frustrated with the Knights’ offense. Pirates’ sophomore Travis Flagg, bumps into Mattox on defense, resulting in a foul. Unhappy with the call, he throws his hands up in complaint toward the referee, getting a technical foul called on him.

The Knights manage to stay ahead at the half, 34-25.

Unsatisfied with only a nine-point lead at half time, the Knights carry that momentum into a 21-5 run against the Pirates at the 11:46 mark. They put pressure on the Pirates offense, mixing the defense from man coverage, to a 1-2-2 zone, and trapping the ball when they could, resulting in turnovers.

The largest lead by the Knights was 33 points with 5:06 left to play. They outscored the Pirates 85-59, sending them to the tournament semi-finals.

“I think we played better than our first game,” Knights sophomore guard Spencer Mattox said. “But we still have a lot to work on. Mostly our defense and transition defense.”

Knights’ freshman guard Jaire Roberts stepped up in the second half as he was continuing to drive to the basket and getting fouled, resulting in free throws. He was 100 percent from the line, making nine out of nine free throws.

The Knights went on to play in the semi-finals on Saturday night against Grossmont. The game was close but they were unable to beat them, resulting in a 73-75 loss.

Playing for third place against Citrus for the second time, the Knights were confident against the Owls. Unable to hit simple shots and keep the turnovers low, the Knights lost 81-87.