A-K Valley girls basketball notebook: Plum flashes potential with win over Mars

Wednesday, January 13, 2021 | 6:07 PM

A mix of experience and youthful talent has the Plum girls basketball team hoping to finish at the top of Section 2-5A and break a long playoff win drought.

The Mustangs got off to a strong start Tuesday as they dispatched perennial Class 5A playoff qualifier Mars, 59-48.

Down by one at the end of the first quarter, Plum started to take control with a 22-10 advantage in the second.

Senior standout and Oakland University recruit Kennedie Montue picked up where she left off last season with a game-best 29 points.

Megan Marston made her varsity debut, and the freshman guard finished with 14 points. Junior Kai Johnson added 13 points.

“There definitely were a few jitters in the first quarter,” Plum coach Steve Elsier said.

“We hadn’t scrimmaged or played at all, and they had a couple of games under their belts. It was our first time in a real game situation with the schedule changes and everything else, but after we settled down, things got better for us. We were able to play the way we expect.”

Plum hopes to keep things rolling at 7:30 p.m. Thursday when it takes on Upper St. Clair.

Foxes get a ‘W’

Fox Chapel upended Section 2-5A foe Hampton, 58-49, for its first win of the season after a pre-shutdown setback to Oakland Catholic and Saturday’s close loss to Mars.

Foxes coach Marty Matvy described Tuesday’s game as a “very gritty win” by his team, which was playing without injured sophomore forward Elsie Smith. Starting freshman guard Sarah Slember went down with an ankle injury early in the second quarter and didn’t return.

Senior Ellie Schwartzman had 11 points, 21 rebounds and 11 assists, and classmate Ally Hager scored a career-best 21 points. Senior Domenica Delaney added 13 points.

Matvey said Delaney and Schwartzman each had two defenders on them for a majority of the game.

The Foxes visit Armstrong on Thursday.

A good first Knight

Knoch is No. 5 this week in the TribHSSN Class 5A rankings, and the Knights flexed their muscle in Monday’s 72-29 Section 1 victory over Highlands.

The Knights led 11-0 and added on from there as three players scored in double figures.

Junior Madilyn Boyer, who led all scorers with 18 points, said it was great to finally play a game after contests Friday and Saturday against Valley and Hampton were postponed because of covid issues with the Vikings and Talbots. A game Dec. 11 with Butler also was nixed.

“It was frustrating because we put in all the practice time to be ready for the games that got canceled, but it felt good to be out there and start with a nice section win,” Boyer said.

“We weren’t selfish with the ball, and had good ball movement throughout the game. We were able to pick up the pace.”

Knoch is back in action Thursday at home against Section 1 rival Deer Lakes.

Season starters

Three Alle-Kiski Valley girls basketball teams — Freeport, Apollo-Ridge and Valley — have yet to play a game.

That changes Thursday for Freeport and Apollo-Ridge, who scrimmaged each other Tuesday.

The Yellowjackets, who had a game Monday with Valley postponed, visit Highlands in Section 1-4A. The Vikings travel to Yough for a nonsection contest.

Valley, which had to shut down recently because of a positive covid result within the program, is scheduled to return to the gym for practice Jan. 23. Coach Ernie Sipolino said he is hopeful his team can begin a busy and compact schedule as early as Jan. 27.

St. Joseph, which practiced three times last week before shutting down because of a positive covid case, is set to resume practice next Wednesday in advance of a game Jan. 23 at Laurel. The Spartans then will play at home against Springdale on Jan. 25.

St. Joseph played twice Dec. 11. They fell to WPIAL powers Neshannock and Mohawk at home.

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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