Fox Chapel girls looking to peak at right time with playoffs approaching

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Saturday, February 20, 2021 | 9:01 AM


The Fox Chapel girls basketball team hasn’t won a playoff game since its last extended playoff run to the WPIAL Class 4A semifinals when it took down Pine-Richland and Norwin.

That was seven years ago.

Now, after winning seven of their past eight games heading into a Section 2-5A matchup with Indiana on Feb. 18, the Foxes are looking to deliver their first postseason victory in quite some time.

“We feel pretty good, but we’re still hungry and striving for more,” Fox Chapel coach Marty Matvey said. “Obviously, the one setback in the past games was against Armstrong, and we feel that we still aren’t playing to our potential. So, we look forward to these next couple games and the end of the year here.”

With wins over sectional opponents Plum, Mars, Kiski Area and Hampton, along with a nonsection win over Woodland Hills, the Foxes have been playing well and playing confidently.

They have averaged 56.6 points per game while only giving up 42.4 points during their recent eight-game stretch. Their 20-point victory over Hampton, their two victories over Kiski Area and their win over the Wolverines were signature wins as the Foxes did exactly what Matvey has been preaching.

“We certainly played well and continued to put them away anytime they made a run, and we didn’t really allow them to make a run,” Matvey said. “We felt like we were doing what we needed to do.”

They were playing great ball and were capitalizing on opportunities, but they did have one slip-up in their past eight games, the Feb. 10 matchup against Armstrong.

The Foxes jumped out to a 13-4 lead and led 16-10 after the first quarter. The River Hawks, who were second in Section 2-5A as of Feb. 17, slowly worked their way back into the game and outscored the Foxes 14-8 in the second quarter before cruising to a 44-35 victory.

“The big formula for us has been to start fast and continue to strike,” Matvey said. “So, you start fast in a game and a team usually calls a timeout and wants to punch back, but that is the point where we want to hit them again, and we had been pretty effective at doing that. Against Armstrong, there was a point where we could’ve thrown that second knockout blow, but we just simply didn’t do that. We allowed them to get back into the game, and you can’t let a good team like that hang around.”

Fox Chapel bounced back in its next two games though with its second wins over Plum and Kiski Area. The Foxes withstood a 35-point outing from Plum’s Kennedie Montue on Feb. 12 to pull out a 60-52 victory, then earned a convincing 65-35 victory over the Cavaliers on Feb. 16.

Although they were solid victories that allowed the Foxes to continue their improvement, they were also measuring sticks that gave them an idea of where they truly stood.

“It’s a measuring stick for how far we have to go. Even though we got the win against Plum, we weren’t playing to the best of our ability, and that’s the tough part at this point in the season,” Matvey said. “Some teams are content with winning seven of the past eight. For us, it’s how did we come out compared to our standards. It’s are we playing to our best standards to enable us to win a playoff game for the first time in seven years. So, we’re happy, but we’re certainly not complacent by any means.”

With just three games left in the season after the matchup with Indiana, the Foxes are going to continue to build for their playoff run. Matvey believes they still have a few things to figure out before then.

“For us, it’s just execution. Just executing our set plays is really important because come playoff time, you’ll run into teams that have enough athletes that can hang with your star players,” Matvey said. “It’s the teams that can execute on the offensive and defensive end. Those are the ones that will have the most success.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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