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Emily Knapp, Claire Neff lift Maryvale basketball over Glenelg Country, 58-42, in IAAM B Conference playoffs

Maryvale's Claire Neff (front) gives Emily Knapp (back) a piggyback ride after their 58-42 victory over Glenelg Country in the IAAM B Conference quarterfinals.
Maryvale's Claire Neff (front) gives Emily Knapp (back) a piggyback ride after their 58-42 victory over Glenelg Country in the IAAM B Conference quarterfinals. (Kyle J. Andrews)

Emily Knapp might just be a freshman, but on Tuesday night, she played like a seasoned veteran.

The young point guard, along with senior Claire Neff, led the Maryvale basketball team to a 58-42 victory over Glenelg Country in the quarterfinals of the IAAM B Conference tournament.

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Maryvale (14-7, 7-4) will face St. Paul’s (21-3, 11-0), a 63-31 winner Tuesday over Mercy, on Thursday in the B Conference semifinals.

The freshman-senior duo had 18 points a piece, and it wasn’t even their biggest contribution to the win. While Neff blocked shots and crashed the boards, Knapp had five steals, setting the tone for the defense.

Knapp’s strong play in a playoff game was the culmination of rising belief in herself throughout the season.

“At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t confident in myself at all,” Knapp said. “Just coming in as a freshman, I didn’t know if I could play with all of these upperclassmen. I knew we’d lost to them [Glenelg Country] in the beginning, but we’ve grown as a team so much and everyone’s confidence had grown. So, I knew that we could play with them and beat them when we came into this game.”

The combo of Knapp and Neff planted its roots early in the season. It’s not often that a freshman and senior have the connection that they do, but it was made easier because of Neff’s willingness to lead her teammate.

“Emily and I connected from her first day, and I was super excited to bring her in and welcome her into the program,” Neff said. “Freshman and senior relationships aren’t usually that great, but me and her’s is great — which I’m grateful for. So, I just tried to bring her and show her that age doesn’t matter; it’s just a number and that she’s fully capable of playing against these seniors and juniors. And she’s proven it.”

Glenelg Country’s Regan Byrne and Ashlyn Bender each scored four points in the first quarter with Knapp and Lexi Smith scoring four and three, respectively, to help the Lions take a 13-12 lead. The second quarter featured the rise of Glenelg Country’s Caroline Haynes, who scored nine points on three 3-pointers. Neff stepped up to score four in the second, leading to a tie at 26 at the half.

Maryvale’s Audrey Allan scored four points off the bench in the third quarter, and she was complemented by Knapp and Neff scoring 10 total points to give the Lions a 43-34 lead. Knapp and Neff combined to score 14 in the fourth quarter to close out the win.

With Glenelg Country’s season coming to an end, coach Will Harper tipped his hat to a Maryvale team that went on a 19-0 run in the second half.

“First of all, Maryvale did a hell of a job with a 19-0 run in the second half, but the effort was there,” Harper said. “They killed us tonight — they were just the better team tonight. You just have to take your hats off to them, they were the better team — they outplayed us, they outcoached us, they did what they had to do.”

MP (14-7, 7-4): E. Knapp 18, C. Neff 18, A. Allan 10, L. Smith 6, T. Giles 6

GCS (12-11, 7-4): C. Haynes 17, R. Byrne 7, A. Bender 7, B. Byrne 5, A. Regan 2, L. Doreen 2, C. Lisk 2

Halftime: 26-26

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