Fast Start Helps Keystone Maintain First Place in KSAC South

| January 30, 2019

KNOX, Pa. (D9Sports) – Sometimes it is how you start as opposed to how you finish.

(Photo of Keystone’s Troy Johnson going up for a shot Tuesday in the win over Karns City. Photo by Mary Rearick)

Keystone rode a strong start to a 59-50 win over visiting Karns City in a key KSAC South matchup Tuesday night in Knox.

Relisten to the game:

The Panthers (13-3 overall, 6-1 KSAC South) raced out to a 20-3 lead while not allowing Karns City a field goal for the game’s first 10:10 and then held off a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Gremlins (10-7, 4-3) to keep sole possession of first place in the KSAC South.

“It was very important for us,” junior Troy Johnson, who was the Hager Paving Player of the Game after scoring a team-best 19 points to go with four rebounds, said. “We needed this to seal first place. Hopefully, we can win the rest of our games in the South to keep it.”

The game couldn’t have started any better for Keystone, as they scored the first 10 points of the contest and led 16-2 at the end of the first quarter.

That lead grew to 20-3 two minutes into the second quarter before Chase Beighley finally scored the first field goal of the game for Karns City with 5:50 to play in the opening half.

The Gremlins were 0-for-11 from the field to start the game and 3 of 23 in the first half shooting.

“Defense has always been big for us this season,” Johnson said. “We like to rely on it, and it came through big in that first quarter.”

Keystone’s lead was 13, 25-12, at halftime, and the advantage moved to as many as 17 points a couple of times in the third quarter, the latest at 36-19 following a Dawson Steele basket with 3:24 to play in the quarter.

But Karns City started to slowly cut into the advantage and got within 12, 38-26, by the end of the third quarter.

The Gremlins kept pushing in the fourth quarter behind 6-foot-4 sophomore forward Nathan Waltman, who scored 13 of his game-high 26 points – he also had a game-best eight rebounds – in the final eight minutes.

Thanks in large part to Waltman, Karns City got within five, 50-45, on an offensive putback by the big fellow with a 1:17 to play.

“He is a very big boy,” Johnson, who fouled out with 2:28 to play, said. “You have to front him and have help on the backside. We didn’t have it there most of the time. He’s big.”

Keystone was able to hold off the Karns City push thanks to a heads up play from Brooks LaVan and Andrew Lauer following the Waltman hoop that made it a five-point contest.

The Panthers had called timeout with 1:13 to play and were inbounding under their own basket. LaVan was the trigger man and was closing in on a five-second count and a turnover when he took a chance throwing a long ball to Lauer who broke to the far end of the court. Lauer caught the pass and laid the ball up and in to make it a three-possession game starting an 8-3 run that sealed the contest.

“There wasn’t much open for (Brooks) on that play,” Johnson said. “He had to throw the Hail Mary. It decided to pay out. It was good.”

Watch Johnson’s complete postgame interview.

Steele added 14 points and five rebounds for Keystone, who is still without second-leading scorer Isaak Jones, who could miss the rest of the regular season with a hand injury, with Lauer chipping in 12 points and seven rebounds.

Austin Fahlor pitched in 12 points and six rebounds for Karns City with Beighley scoring nine points.

Keystone is slated to be back in action Friday at Moniteau. A win over the Warriors, who have two losses in the South and are in second place, would all but secure the KSAC South for the Panthers for the second time in three years.

Karns City is slated to return to the court Thursday at home vs. Clarion, but that game is in peril because of the winter weather. The Gremlins then host Union Friday.

Watch the first half of the game on Facebook.

Watch the second half of the game.


Score by Quarters

Karns City 2 10 14 24 – 50
Keystone 16 9 13 21 – 59


Josh Wimer 0 0-0 0, Austin Fahlor 5 0-1 12, Chase Beighley 3 2-2 9, Ty Belles 0 0-0 0, Ethan McElroy 0 1-2 1, Luke Garring 1 0-0 2, Nathan Waltman 8 10-13 26. Totals 17 13-18 50.


Troy Johnson 7 4-6 19, Max Thompson 1 0-2 2, Luke Hurrelbrink 0 0-0 0, Alex Rapp 1 2-4 5, Dawson Steele 4 6-7 14, Andrew Lauer 5 2-2 12, Brandon Kapp 1 0-2 2, Brooks LaVana 1 2-2 5. Totals 20 16-25 59.

Three-pointers: Karns City 3 (Fahlor 2, Beighley). Keystone 3 (Johnson, Rapp, LaVan).

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