Girls basketball preview: Fox Chapel ready to take next step in coach’s second season

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Friday, November 27, 2020 | 11:01 AM


In Marty Matvey’s first year at the helm of the Fox Chapel girls basketball program, the Foxes saw a glimpse of success that they are hoping to build on in year two.

They finished with an overall record of 13-10 and went .500 in a section that included eventual WPIAL champion North Allegheny as well Norwin and Seneca Valley. The Foxes also found themselves in several close games against top opposition.

During their early season meeting with North Allegheny, the Foxes built a six-point lead in the third quarter before falling. In the playoffs, they also pushed No. 1 seed Bethel Park to the brink and only lost by four points.

Now, with another year of experience under their belt, the Foxes are looking to take another step forward, and they’ll do so with a mix of youth, experience and talent.

“We’re so close to getting to where we need to be,” Matvey said. “But the best thing about this year is the system is installed; the kids know what to expect. I have a fantastic senior class — I have six of them, and we’re just in rhythm. I’m just excited to see what we can achieve together.”

In Matvey’s first year, he was able to lay the groundwork for how he wants the program to run and succeed as time goes on.

In terms of Xs and Os, Matvey felt like it was a smooth process because of how well the girls were led by the previous coach, Jennifer O’Shea, but Matvey wanted his team to improve from a mental standpoint as well. He feels like they were able to do that, which will be big for this season.

“We always talk about making the next great play because a lot of times people get bogged down with missing a layup, then it will cause them to give up an easy play at the other end,” Matvey said. “We tried to break them of that. You can screw up at one end, but make the next great play at the other end. So that was something that we started to turn the corner on at the end of the year.”

The Foxes lost three players to graduation in Gabby Guererri, Kyrie Nestel and Claire Fenton, but they won’t be short on talent this year. Seniors Ellie Schwartzman and Domenica Delaney will lead the way for the Foxes after playing primary roles as juniors last season.

At 5-foot-11, Schwartzman provides the Foxes with solid play in the paint after averaging 12 points a game last season, and Matvey said he will count on Delaney as well this year to play an even bigger role.

“Those two continuing to understand that they are really good players and believing it because last year was when it really turned on for them,” Matvey said. “They understood that they could hang with the Norwins and the NAs. Now, they just have to impose their will and make others around them better.”

Delaney and Schwartzman won’t be alone as Matvey has four other seniors returning who will mix with a solid group of underclassmen such as sophomore Elsie Smith and freshman Sarah Slember, who Matvey said will see minutes.

After playing in Class 6A last season, the Foxes will drop down to Class 5A, where they are in a section with Armstrong, Hampton, Indiana, Kiski Area, Mars and Plum. Gateway edged out Plum last season with a 10-3 section record, but the Gators have moved to Section 4 along with Franklin Regional.

Fox Chapel girls at a glance

Coach: Marty Matvey

Last year’s record: 13-10, Section 7-7

Returning starters: Ellie Schwartzman, Sr., F; Domenica Delaney, Sr., G; Marissa Ritter, Sr., G

Top newcomers: Elsie Smith, So., F; Sarah Slember, Fr., G

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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