Fox Chapel girls pull away to beat Knoch in Shady Side tournament

Friday, December 27, 2019 | 6:46 PM

A jumper from Knoch senior forward Lauren Cihonski 40 seconds into Friday’s matchup with Fox Chapel at the Shady Side Academy Tournament gave the Knights a two-point lead.

But the Foxes quickly countered from long range as a pair of 3-pointers from senior Gabby Guerreri and a third from junior Marissa Ritter put the Foxes up seven.

It was the start of a solid day at both ends of the court for Fox Chapel, which prevailed 52-29.

“We’ve been working on making sure we have strong starts to games,” said Guerreri, who finished with a team-best 13 points.

“That was on our minds. We knew we had to play as a team from the start and take care of business. We were able to do that today.”

Fox Chapel improved to 4-3 and will face Avonworth in the championship game at 6 p.m. Saturday.

“It was nice to see us keep the pedal to the metal and execute,” Foxes coach Marty Matvey said. “There’s a lot we can and will work on. Hopefully, we can execute our gameplan again (Saturday) and take some momentum into January.”

Knoch (5-3) will play at 4:30 p.m. Saturday against Shady Side Academy in the consolation game.

“You have to take care of (Fox Chapel) inside, and we devoted our preparation to doing that,” Knoch coach Chris Andreassi said. “But they have the guards, too. They have a nice mix. They have a very balanced offensive team.”

Fox Chapel led 10-6 after the first quarter and scored the first nine points of the second to take control.

Freshman forward Elsie Smith, making her first varsity start, began the run with a layup and a pair of free throws.

She scored six in the quarter and finished with 10 points to go with 10 rebounds.

“Elsie really played well and scored some important points for us, especially in the third quarter when Knoch made a push like I knew they would,” Matvey said.

Knoch, which was without freshman starting point guard Nina Shaw because of injury, played even with the Foxes through most of the third quarter.

The Knights trailed by 11 with 4:37 left in the quarter and attempted to get the score to single digits, but Fox Chapel responded with baskets from Smith and junior forward Ellie Schwartzman to push the advantage to 37-22 heading to the fourth.

“These girls are never going to stop battling,” Andreassi said. “We played well in the third quarter, but we missed some shots. We got several good looks. Then, unfortunately, it got away from us.”

Schwartzman, the team’s leading scorer at 13.2 points a game, came off the bench Friday and finished with seven points, nine rebounds and three blocks.

Matvey said Schwartzman, normally a starter, didn’t practice Thursday as she traveled home from a family vacation and didn’t start Friday per team rules.

Senior Domenica Delaney added 12 points for Fox Chapel.

Sophomore guard Madilyn Boyer led Knoch with 17 points.

Junior Nevaeh Ewing, who came into the game averaging 17.3 points for the Knights, didn’t score until the 3:17 mark of the fourth quarter. She finished with two points.

“We saw Nevaeh in the summer league, and we know how fantastic a player she is,” Matvey said. “We wanted to force them to score through someone else. That was the recipe.”

Andreassi said he hopes to have Shaw back in the lineup in a couple of weeks.

“We want to learn from a game like this against a really good team,” Andreassi said. “The goal every time we play is to get better. We’ll come back (Saturday) and be ready to go.”

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

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