Blount Press Row

Thousand Points of Knight

Lady Mountaineers roll as junior honored for milestone

IMG_4118Heritage junior Kassi Knight is joined at center court by Lady Mountaineer coach Rick Howard as Knight is inducted into the school’s 1,000-point club. Photo by Jerry Traxler

Editor’s note: Technical problems Wednesday delayed this report on Tuesday night’s game. Our apologies for the delay.

By Stefan Cooper
Editor
Blount Press Row

After a while, you half expected Kassi Knight to stop, drop and roll.

Knight wheels and deals for two at the Lenoir City Christmas tournament. Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Knight wheels and deals for two at the Lenoir City Christmas tournament. Photo by Jolanda Jansma

The Heritage junior was on fire in the worst way on a night she was honored for becoming the school’s newest member of the 1,000-point club.

Knight poured in a game-high 20 points, including a trey, and raked off seven rebounds as the Lady Mountaineers avenged a loss to Hardin Valley earlier this season with a 62-35 rout on senior night on Tuesday.

“We were more intense (Tuesday),” Heritage coach Rick Howard said. “I thought we played so much more like a team.”

With the District 4AAA tournament looming next week at Farragut, Knight wasn’t the only Lady Mountaineer hitting top form at just the right time. Junior shooting guard Leah Thomas ripped the Lady Hawks for 15 points, a healthy dose of it coming on back-to-back-to-back 3s in a late first quarter eruption.

Heritage got eight points from Katie Wolfe, five apiece from senior Bethany Massey and Abbie Burchfield. Guard Mikayla Hutsell chipped in four off the bench. Wolfe, nine rebounds, Massey, seven, and Thomas, five, were part of a huge night of 41 rebounds for the Lady Mountaineers.

“Tonight we didn’t miss (grabbing) 33 rebounds and 18 free throws,” Howard said.

With the win, Heritage (23-6, 8-6 4AAA) finishes in the fourth spot in the regular season standings. Maryville (22-4, 13-1) and next week’s host Lady Admirals (23-2, 13-1) finished in a dead heat for the regular-season crown, with Bearden (20-6, 9-5) third.

After Knight returned from pregame ceremonies at center court, where she was presented with a plaque by Howard commemorating her achievement, the Lady Mountaineers got down to business right away.

Leah Thomas drives the baseline at Lenoir City tourney. Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Leah Thomas drives the baseline at Lenoir City tourney. Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Wolfe tossed in a pair of early buckets, including a delightful hook shot in the lane. Knight popped from the baseline. Thomas then floored the Lady Hawks with three straight treys to bust open a 15-7 lead.

“When Abbie would drive and kick it back, I would be open just because of the defense they were in,” Thomas said.

Knight revved to high gear from there, back-to-back jumpers blowing it open to 20-8 after a quarter.

The Lady Mountaineers fell, 56-54, at Hardin Valley in early January.

“Down there we didn’t play our game,” Knight said. “We were more determined (Tuesday). Tonight, we said we’re going to take it to them.”

Burchfield really got things rolling early in the second quarter, first forcing a 5-second count on a Hardin Valley inbounds play, following with a 3 at the other end for a 24-10 advantage.

A big part of the Heritage getaway was defense around the basket from Wolfe and backup Hutsell on Hardin Valley 6-foot-2 prospect Lacy Cantrell. Hutsell, giving up several inches and at least 25 pounds, noticeably never let Cantrell, 10 points, establish position on the blocks as Wolfe sat with foul trouble early.

“I just tried to get her off the block because she, obviously, was bigger than me,” Hutsell said.

“I knew for us to win we had to get her out of there so we could get the rebound,” Wolfe said.

Brie Carter would lead the Lady Hawks on the night with 12 points.

Bethany Massey lofts in a floater at the baseline. Photo by Jerry Traxler

Bethany Massey lofts in a floater at the baseline. Photo by Jerry Traxler

It was 32-17 at the half, and any hopes the Lady Hawks held of a second half rally were quickly quashed as soon as play resumed.

A Hardin Valley switch to a trick zone defense had little effect. Knight and Massey both hit twice, with Massey punctuating an 8-0 run with a scooped layup from beneath the backboard. It was totally nice.

The resulting 40-17 bulge pretty much put it away, Heritage leading, 51-27, to start the fourth.

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