Fox Chapel tops Shaler for key victory in WPIAL playoff chase

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Monday, January 27, 2020 | 10:29 PM


The Fox Chapel girls basketball team took one step closer to what it hopes is a trip to the WPIAL Class 6A playoffs with a 44-32 home victory over Shaler on Monday.

The Foxes came into the game tied with the Titans and Seneca Valley for third place in Section 1. They won their third in a stretch of four in section play and also bounced back from Friday’s 59-33 loss to North Allegheny.

“This win felt really good because our path to the playoffs is a lot more clear, and it made (Shaler’s) a lot harder,” said Fox Chapel junior Domenica Delaney, who led all scorers with 17 points. “North Allegheny was definitely not one of our best games, so to come back and play well and play as a team, it was really good for us.”

Monday’s victory also avenged a 35-28 loss to Shaler on Jan. 3. The Foxes are 6-2 overall since that game.

“This was good momentum going into Thursday’s game (at North Hills),” Fox Chapel coach Marty Matvey said. “We are cautiously confident. Schedule-wise in the section, we still have challenging games left with Seneca Valley and Norwin next week, too. North Hills plays really tough at home, and going to Seneca is always a challenge.”

Fox Chapel is 11-6 overall and 6-5 in the section, and Shaler dropped to 8-10 overall, 5-6 in the section.

“We have to take care of business on Thursday,” Shaler coach Cornelius Nesbit said. “We have Seneca Valley at home. We can’t afford to have another game like we had (Monday) where we didn’t play the way we needed to on a big night.”

Seneca Valley kept pace in the section at 6-5 with a 51-30 win over Pine-Richland on Monday.

“It was a complete team effort tonight,” Matvey said. “We threw out a little bit of a different defense and kind of slowed it down with a couple less possessions than what they probably expected. We were able to bottle up some of their talent and produce on both the offensive and defensive ends.”

Junior Ellie Schwartzman, held off the scoreboard in the first half, scored nine in the second half.

She tallied five of the Foxes’ six points in the fourth as they held off a Shaler rally that began with an 11-0 run to start the quarter.

Schwartzman, who also finished with nine rebounds, put a halt to the run with two free throws that gave Fox Chapel a 40-28 lead with 3 minutes, 27 seconds left. She added a steal and a layup at the 1:10 mark and sank a free throw with 58 seconds on the clock to cap the scoring for the Foxes.

Fox Chapel led by seven at halftime, but it used an 18-4 advantage in the third to gain some comfort. Delaney sank a pair of 3-pointers in the quarter, including one at the buzzer to lift the lead to 38-17.

The final points of the quarter were set up by a block and rebound by Schwartzman on the defensive end.

The Foxes, led by Schwartzman, junior Allison Hager and freshman Elsie Smith, increased their control of the boards in the third to help build the lead.

“With those three on the court, that’s a big lineup,” Matvey said.

Seniors Gabby Guerrieri and Claire Fenton contributed six and five points, respectively, for Fox Chapel. Mackenzie Barr led Shaler with nine points.

“I am really proud of the girls, but we certainly have more work to do to get to where we ultimately want to be,” Matvey said.

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

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