A-K Valley girls basketball notebook: Big game with Butler up next for Fox Chapel

Wednesday, January 15, 2020 | 7:30 PM

The Fox Chapel girls basketball team opens the second half of Section 1-6A play Thursday at Butler in a game head coach Marty Matvey called crucial for its chances at a WPIAL playoff spot.

The Foxes, who suffered a 58-51 loss to the Golden Tornadoes on Dec. 12, are 3-4 in the section and trail Seneca Valley and Shaler — tied for third place — by one game in the standings. Butler is in sixth at 2-5.

“If they beat us, they’ll be there with a chance for the playoffs, and a win for us means we’ll still be able to challenge for the top three in the section,” said Matvey, whose team is coming off a 76-39 loss to 6A No. 2 Norwin on Monday.

Matvey said it’s been a mix of trying to overcome and weather the storm since the start of the New Year. Senior forward Elle Schwartzman, the team’s leading scorer, is battling through a high ankle sprain suffered in the fourth quarter of a 45-33 win over Avonworth on Dec. 28 at the Shady Side Academy tournament.

“She is suiting up when she can and is battling through the pain,” Matvey said. “She doesn’t know just how tough she is, mentally and physically. We’re being cautious with her. She understands the importance of being in the game and being able to contribute as much as she can.”

Fox Chapel lost to Shaler (35-28) on Jan. 3 but bounced back with section wins over North Hills (36-26) and Seneca Valley (50-46). Domenica Delaney (16), Gabby Guerrieri (12) and Schwarzman (10) each scored in double figures against the Indians.

“It truly was a team effort to beat a good Seneca Valley team,” Matvey said. “The girls were resilient, and we hung on for a really good win.”

The Foxes fell behind 27-7 after the first quarter against Norwin.

“We felt fully confident and prepared,” Matvey said. “We needed a good start against them, but they hit us with five points in the first 10 seconds of the game. We weren’t able to recover from that. Norwin shot the ball well, and we didn’t play our best.”

Back in the saddle

Nina Shaw didn’t waste any time adapting to the varsity game, as the freshman starting point guard made an impact for Knoch over the first few weeks of the season.

She was slowed down a bit, however, with a concussion suffered in a game against Winchester Thurston a couple of days before Christmas.

After missing four games, Shaw recovered and returned to the lineup last week against Freeport. Coach Chris Andreassi said having Shaw back, with her quickness, scoring prowess, ability to distribute the basketball and defense, is a positive piece for the Knights as they continue their push in Section 1-4A.

Knoch, at 5-2 and in third place in the section behind North Catholic (6-0) and Freeport (6-1), begins the second half of section play Thursday at Highlands.

Charging Mustangs

Plum snapped a six-game losing streak against neighboring rival Gateway on Monday with a 41-27 victory over the defending Section 2-5A champion.

The win, which senior guard Mackenzie Lake called a total team effort, lifted the Mustangs into the section lead at 5-1, one game ahead of the Gators, Mars and Armstrong.

Plum’s defense held Gateway 24 points under its season average. Kennedie Montue, now just 44 points away from 1,000 for her varsity career, scored a team-best 14, while Lake added 12.

The Mustangs, winners of five straight, hope to end the regular season in the playoffs for the fourth year in a row and have the chance to snap a playoff-win drought that dates to 2002.

Bouncing back

Despite a spirited start in a Jan. 2 matchup against North Catholic, Freeport was not able to solve the Class 4A No. 1 Trojanettes in a 61-42 loss.

The setback fueled the Yellowjackets, and the now-healthy group is making its move in the section.

Freeport (8-4, 6-1) will go for its fourth straight win in section Thursday at Greensburg Salem. It bounced back from the North Catholic loss with a 59-26 rout of Apollo-Ridge four days later and met the challenge against rival Knoch, 53-39, on Jan. 9.

In Monday’s 54-43 win over Indiana, which came in 4-2 in the section, the Yellowjackets got a team-best 15 points apiece from seniors Madeline Clark and Harley Holloway.

Sidney Shemanski just missed a triple-double with 13 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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