Oakland Catholic girls hold off spirited Fox Chapel rally

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Friday, December 11, 2020 | 9:31 PM


The Fox Chapel girls basketball team gave host Oakland Catholic all it could handle in a nonsection game Friday night.

The Foxes rallied from a double-digit deficit in the first half and were within two possessions heading into the fourth quarter, but the Eagles held off a final Fox Chapel charge for a 48-41 victory.

It was a bittersweet feeling for Foxes coach Marty Matvey and his players, who were happy with the opportunity to play but knew they would not be together for a practice or game for three weeks because of the new covid restrictions from Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday.

“I think they were just so thankful to have the opportunity to see where they stand against a really good program and a really well-coached team,” Matvey said. “We’re happy to play one game before this break. A lot of schools didn’t get that chance. We’re battling through some things with injuries to some key players. But I was happy to have nine healthy kids. It was good that they had a chance to play.”

Oakland Catholic held a 36-32 lead at the start of the fourth quarter and used a 7-2 run to extend its advantage.

Fox Chapel then responded with a 7-2 run. Senior forward Ellie Schwartzman hit a 3-pointer with 2 minutes, 30 seconds left to cut the deficit to 45-41.

But Oakland Catholic senior Mia Vigliotti made three free throws in the final minute to help seal the victory. The Eagles were 8 of 12 from the free-throw line in the fourth.

“For them to get something in, they were able to end 2020 on a positive note,” Oakland Catholic coach Brianne O’Rourke-Kelly said. “It was great for us to get the win, but you could tell it was the first game for us. We were able to see what we need to work on. It’s a bummer we have to have the next three weeks off, but we were able to build some momentum.”

The Eagles were without returning starters and leading scorers Rachel Haver and Alexa Washington because of injury, but O’Rourke-Kelly said they should be back by Jan. 4, when play is scheduled resume.

Injury kept senior forward Allison Hager and sophomore forward Elsie Smith out of the Foxes lineup.

“We would’ve had more of a size advantage with those two,” Matvey said.

Vigliotti and sophomore Halena Hill scored 11 points each, and senior Bella Fabian added 10 to pace the scoring attack for Oakland Catholic, which led 18-8 after the first quarter and built a 13-point advantage with 4:19 to go until the break.

Fox Chapel then held the Eagles off the board for the remainder of the first half and used a 12-0 run to close to within one.

The streak started with a 3-point field goal from Schwartzman and two field goals from freshman Sarah Slember.

Schwartzman and senior forward Madyson Kondel added buckets, and freshman Bella Barbour made a free throw with 2 seconds on the clock.

Schwartzman finished with a team-best 15 points, and senior Marissa Ritter added 10.

“Something I’ve always stressed with the programs I’ve been with and the young ladies I’ve had the opportunity to coach is to be resilient and adaptable,” Matvey said. “If you count yourself out, then you are certainly out. We’re always in the game, no matter what.”

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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