Freeport's Melaina Dezort (above) scores the first bucket for the Yellowjackets during their home opener against the Knoch Lady Knights on Monday.
By Joe Rhoades
The 2021 high school basketball season is expected to have a lot of moving parts. The Freeport Yellowjackets girls varsity basketball team knows their work is cut out for them due to the pandemic and related delays, but the roster turnover from a season ago was the team’s biggest hurdle on Monday, as the new-look Jackets fell to the Knoch Lady Knights, 54-27.
Freeport started three sophomores, a junior, and just one senior in its home opener, this after a veteran-laden team helped the program reach the PIAA playoffs a season ago.
The Yellowjackets’ youthful squad mustered just two field goals in the first quarter compared to the 11 turnovers surrendered. Regardless of the experience and topsy-turvy nature in which the season has begun, Freeport head coach Fred Soilis sees none of those as a viable excuse for the outcome against the Knights.
“We knew what they was capable of,” Soilis said of the highly-touted Knights. “We thought we could match up and slow them down at certain positions. I think we accomplished that with Nevaeh [Ewing]. I think Grace [Soilis] did a good job defending her up. The problem is that they have other scorers. This is only our second game, but I am not going to make excuses. They are a good team, and we didn’t play well — we had too many breakdowns that we just couldn’t compensate for.”
The Knights' depth that Fred Soilis spoke of saw Sophomore Megan Vasas lead her team in points with 12. Just a game earlier, it was the exploits of Nevaeh Ewing and her 25 points that guided the 3-0 Knoch group to victory. Despite Ewing being held to four points on Monday, Knoch looked as strong as they have all season, while showing off depth that will be hard to beat once the postseason begins on February 27.
Knoch’s stellar defense showed no signs of stopping in the second and third quarters before starters were lifted in the fourth, allowing just one basket from the field in the second quarter, and seven points in the third.
Dezort finished with 14 of the Yellowjackets’ 27 points, and no other Freeport player had more than four points.
“This is my sixth year and in that time, I think we’ve only lost to Knoch three times, but things change,” Fred Soilis said. “I told the girls at the beginning of the season that we can either roll the ball out and play that way or we can get down to the nitty-gritty and get down to playing the kind of basketball that we’ve been building here."
Knoch and Freeport are set for a rematch Feb. 11 at Knoch
In the meantime, both teams have the same opponent upcoming in Deer Lakes. Knoch faces the Lancers on Thursday, while Freeport is off until its contest on Monday.
To watch a complete re-broadcast of Knoch's 54-27 victory over Freeport, click the link below: