- December 21, 2021
In the Pirates' final timeout on Friday, Dec. 2, Matanzas boys basketball coach Henry Robinson made eye contact with Karl Knighten and told the senior point guard to "be a superstar; close it out."
Knighten did just that in the 80-74 home victory over University. He poured in 38 points including two free throws with 12.9 seconds left to wrap up the Pirates' first win of the season.
"Having (Karl Knighten) is a big-time addition to the program. He can score it, distribute it, run the offense and guard the other team's best player on the perimeter. We're blessed to have him."
— HENRY ROBINSON, Matanzas coach
Knighten is playing for his third high school in three years. He attended Calvary Christian in Ormond Beach as a freshman and sophomore. He played for FPC last year and was the Bulldogs' second-leading scorer at 11.6 points per game. But Matanzas feels different, he said. It feels like home.
"It's like family here," Knighten said. "Coach Henn lets me play my game. He treats me like I'm one of his."
Knighten's 38-point game was his second highest scoring output in his high school career. He scored 44 as a freshman at Calvary. Knighten is a slashing guard who has a knack for getting to the basket — and the free throw line. He connected on 20 of 24 free throw attempts against the Titans.
Matanzas junior guard Tariq Shakir added 19 points, including four 3-pointers, while senior postman Jude Lukaszewski scored 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Javius Burrell also grabbed 10 rebounds for the Pirates.
The Pirates (1-3) had lost their first two games by two points apiece before falling to 2022 regional finalist Oakleaf 80-58 on Nov. 30. University (1-2) had been in a couple of tight battles themselves, beating FPC 50-48 on Nov. 29 and losing to Lyman 57-56 on Nov. 30.
The Titans pulled within three points in the final minute against the Pirates, but Shakir hit one of two free throws with 20 seconds left. Knighten then stole the ball, was fouled and drained both free throws with 12.9 seconds remaining to make it 80-74.
"Today we closed the game out the right way," Knighten said. "We didn't rush anything. We trusted what coach told us."
The two teams combined to shoot 80 free throws with University converting 27 of 38 and Matanzas making 27 of 42.
Shakir hit two consecutive 3-pointers at the end of the first half to tie the score at 38-38.
"Last year, Tariq was our primary ball handler. Playing next to Karl allows him to play off the ball, and it's opened up his game," Robinson said.
The Pirates were scheduled to host Jacksonville Trinity Christian on Dec. 5 and travel to Father Lopez on Dec. 6. They return home Thursday, Dec. 8, against Pedro Menendez.