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Balanced Scoring, Big Second Half Lifts Karns City Past Keystone to Move to 3-0

KNOX, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Braden Grossman only played about five minutes.

Foul trouble dogged the Karns City guard.

He made the most of the time he was on the court, however.

(Pictured above, Karns City senior Micah Rupp)

Grossman hit a 3-pointer in the opening seconds of the third quarter and another to kick off a dominating fourth period for the Gremlins. In very limited time, Grossman scored 13 points — one of four players in double digits for the team — as the Karns City boys basketball team ran away with a 53-26 road win over Keystone on Wednesday night.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

“I kind of felt bad that he got into foul trouble early,” said Karns City coach Zach Kepple. “When he went in there, he knocked down three 3s there. Braden is a great player. He’s a guy that any coach would love to have because he listens to the coaching and he really executes the game plan.”

It was a solid effort all around for Karns City, especially in the second half.

Keystone (0-3, 0-1) hung around with the Gremlins in the first two quarters. Tyler Albright helped with that effort with a trio of 3-pointers in the second quarter, his last cutting the lead to 22-19 with two minutes to play in the half.

Karns City (3-0, 1-0) was able to take a five-point advantage into the break and then outscored the Panthers 27-5 over the final two quarters.

The difference? The Gremlins were more aggressive in breaking Keystone’s zone.

“We were timid in the first half,” Kepple said. “The second half, we made adjustments and guys followed the plan well about moving the ball, swinging it, finding that dead spot and getting in there. That’s how you attack those zones. And they did a much better job of doing that in the second half.”

Karns City guards Taite Beighley and Hobie Bartoe helped facilitate that with dribble-drive penetration.

Beighley finished with 10 points.

Then there was Micah Rupp, one of the biggest difference-makers in the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference and in District 9 because of his leaping ability and defensive prowess.

Rupp finished the night with 12 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots.

“They’re very, very good,” said Keystone coach Greg Heath. “Taite and Bartoe are very good guards who can facilitate for others. They look to set their teammates up. And, of course, Micah — if you don’t box him out, it’s going to be his rebound. He also just has a great sense of when a shot is going to go up and he alters a lot of shots.”

Karns City also got 10 points from big man Shane Peters off the bench.

There wasn’t a lot of positives for Keystone, which is struggling out of the gate.

It’s much like it was last year for the Panthers, who had a rough December before regrouping and making a playoff run.

“We just need more time,” Heath said. “That’s the bottom line. They took six practices away from us and I have guys who haven’t picked up a basketball in a long time. We’re trying to get them where they need to be in nine practices and that’s not going to work. I thought before, in previous years when we had an extra week, that was still not enough time to get a team ready.”

It has showed on the court where cohesion has been an issue.

“There hasn’t been enough time for us to get connected on offense,” Heath said. “Defensively, we’re slow on some of our rotations. The biggest thing tonight was we got killed on the boards.”

The only consolation for Heath and the Panthers is the season is still very young.

And Heath is hoping his team can get back on track like they did last year.

“By January we should be a much better team,” the longtime coach said. “We’ll have a nice solid block of practices over Christmas. Hopefully it’s not a complete disaster before Christmas.”

For Karns City, which is playing without a key component because of a season-ending knee injury suffered by Luke Cramer early in the football campaign, this start has been very welcome.

“The guys are meshing well right now,” Kepple said. “We have some things to work on, but we’ve come out with a lot of energy and a lot of times if you can play with energy you’re gonna be OK. We’ve done that so far.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.