SOL Featured Game: Pennsbury at CR North

Friday night’s Council Rock North/Pennsbury boys’ basketball game is an SOL Featured Game, sponsored by the CR North Booster Club. Check back for photos and a game story.

By Mary Jane Souder

Mention the name Brandon Knotts, and coach Derek Wright cannot hide the respect he has for his senior captain.

“He’s the rock of our team,” the Council Rock North coach said. “He models everything that you want out of a player.”

So impressed was the Indians’ coach with the way Knotts handled himself while sidelined with a shoulder injury last season that he made a decision that he admits was out of character.

“I gave him the captainship after last season for this year which I usually never do, but he just did everything we asked him to do,” Wright said. “He has no ego. He likes to see other guys do well.

“He plays extremely hard – he gives up his body and does all the little things. With that, he’s also really good, which helps, so he can lead by example just by the way he plays with his talent and his attitude.”

For his part, Knotts is just happy to be back on the court after two injury-plagued seasons. The senior captain missed part of his sophomore season with a dislocated shoulder. He saw action off the bench for the varsity during the playoffs when Matt McCloskey was injured.

“After the season, I knew I had to strengthen my shoulder so I started doing physical therapy a couple of days a week,” Knotts said. “Once I got to football season I felt strong. Everything felt good.”

But not for long.

During the second practice of two-a-days, Knotts dislocated his shoulder again.

“This time they weren’t able to put it in right away, and I had to go to the hospital,” he said. “It was going to keep happening unless I got surgery.”

On Sept. 12, Knotts underwent shoulder surgery, and the six-month rehab began.

“It was real hard,” he said. “I knew I was going to miss football and basketball. During football season, I kept trying to go to as many practices as I could because I wanted to be part of the team.

“I was so excited for my junior year. I was looking to go play either football or basketball in college, and I knew this was an important year.”

When basketball season rolled around, Knotts did what he could to work on his game.

“I came to every basketball practice I could when I didn’t have physical therapy,” he said. “I shot free throws. I had to make 100 free throws each practice. I did one-handed shooting drills because I was able to use my other arm.”

Knotts’ dedication to his team did not go unnoticed.

“He didn’t miss a practice, he didn’t miss a workout,” Wright said. “He did what he needed to do.

“He’s a great teammate. He was really disappointed that he missed the year because I think he knew he could have made an impact for us.”

Instead of looking back, Knotts chose to look ahead.

“I just wanted to work hard to get back because I was thinking about the future and didn’t let it get me down because I was hurt,” he said. “I tried hard to get back as soon as I could. I did not want to think about what happened. I just thought about what I could do to make everything go the way I wanted it to.”

Knotts returned to the basketball court two weeks earlier than anticipated and saw playing time in the team’s final three district games.

“He actually played pretty well when he got in,” Wright said. “He’s a great leader for us, and I’m so happy that he’s healthy.”

A combo guard who plays mainly the two guard, Knotts also can play the point.

“Defensively, we usually try to match him up with the other team’s best player,” Wright said. “Offensively, he’s been shooting the ball really well. He can also drive it and find open teammates. He does a lot of things really well.”

With Knotts in the middle of all the action, the Indians are off to a 7-1 start.

“The season has been good,” he said. “We come to practice every day and work hard. We have a lot of energy and intensity, so if we do that in practice, it transfers to the game, and it shows in our 7-1 start.

“A lot of people aren’t talking about us, but we’re not focusing on that. We go out every game and play hard defense and play North basketball.”

As for his future, Knotts has received interest from football coaches at both the Division II and III levels.  He has not ruled out the possibility of playing collegiate basketball.

For now, Knotts is just happy to be back on the basketball court again.

“I can’t take anything for granted because you never know what could happen,” he said. “I have seen guys get hurt their senior year and not be able to play.

“I was just fortunate enough that it happened my junior year and not my senior year and I’m able to play this year and I’m healthy. I appreciate it so much more.”

Just the facts:
This year’s record: Council Rock North 2-1 SOL (7-1 overall); Pennsbury 1-1 SOL (6-1 overall)
Last year’s record: Council Rock North 21-7 (11-3 SOL National Conference champions); Pennsbury 18-8 (10-4 SOL)
Last meeting:  Jan. 31, 2012 – Pennsbury 65, Council Rock North 62 (Pennsbury: Jerrel Burke – 21 points, Ryan Charity – 14 points, Shawn Pepper – 14 points; Council Rock North: Arron Goodman – 22 points, Aaron Morgan – 10 points, Rip Engel – 10 points)
Last game: Council Rock North 51, Central Bucks South 45 (Rip Engel – 20 points, Kyle McCloskey 11 points, Brandon Knotts – 9 points, Chris Rowland – 7 points)
Pennsbury 60, Cheltenham 47 (Shawn Pepper – 19 points, Cameron Jones – 15 points, Pierson Burton – 10 points)

Council Rock North
Projected starters:
#10 – Rip Engel (5-10, Jr., Guard)
#14 – Ryan Baker (6-2, Sr., Forward)
#21 – Chris Rowland (6-1, Jr., Guard)
#22 – Brandon Knotts (5-10, Sr., Guard)
#32 – Kyle McCloskey (6-6, Sr., Forward)
The rest of the Indians:
#2 – Josh McWilliams (5-10, Jr., Guard)
#3 – Josh Josephs (Sr., Guard)
#12 – Matt Margolis (6-0, Soph., Guard)
#20 – Nate Kardos (6-1, Sr., Guard)
#23 – Steve Nowmos (6-3, Soph., Forward)
#34 – Quinn Johnson (6-4, Jr., Forward)
#40 – Will Desautelle (6-1, Fr., Guard)
#50 – Tyler Madison (6-6, Jr., Forward)

Pennsbury
Projected starters:
#3 – Steve Ciotti (5-10, Jr.)
#4 – Pierson Burton (6-1, Jr.)
#11 – Mekhi Bryant (5-10, Soph.)
#25 – Cameron Jones (6-0, Soph.)
#32 – Shawn Pepper (6-2, Sr.)
The rest of the Falcons:
#1 – Ryon Muse (5-8, Sr.)
#5 – Nigel Johnson (6-1, Jr.)
#10 – Aamir Williams (6-3, Sr.)
#15 – Walter Allen (5-10, Jr.)
#21 – Bobby Wagner (6-0, Jr.)
#22 – Lewis Troh (6-1, Jr.)
#23 – Daquan Mack (6-2, Sr.)
#34 – Matthew Doan (5-10, Jr.)
#35 – Blake Kovin (6-3, Sr.)