Trinity makes short work of Fox Chapel girls in Class 5A quarters

Monday, March 8, 2021 | 9:44 PM

Top-seeded Trinity made short work of yet another girls basketball opponent Monday night, going on a first-half rampage that led to a second-half running clock in a 59-27 rout of visiting Fox Chapel in a WPIAL Class 5A quarterfinal game.

The Hillers (20-1), who extended their winning streak to 16 since losing to Class 6A Norwin on Jan. 16, scored 23 points in each of the first two quarters to build a 46-14 halftime lead.

They closed the first half on a 15-0 run and scored the first four points of the second half to extend the margin to 50-14.

Courtney Dahlquist paced Trinity with 19 points. Alyssa Clutter added 11 for the Hillers, who move to the semifinals against No. 5 Woodland Hills on Thursday at a time and site to be determined.

“We played a great first half,” Trinity coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said. “We moved the ball well, shot the ball well and handled the triangle-and-two (defense) on Clutter and Dahlquist. We did a really good job.”

No. 8 Fox Chapel (12-9) was led by Ellie Schwartzman’s 16 points. The Foxes won two playoff games in a season for the first time in seven years, beating Ringgold and Penn Hills.

“It doesn’t feel good to get your rear end kicked. I’m not happy about it,” Fox Chapel coach Marty Matvey said. “But what I would be more disappointed in with these ladies would be if they would have just quit.”

The Foxes played hard until the end, he said.

“In times like this, it’s a blessing to be able to just play. I told them no matter what the scoreboard says, I always love to go out and watch you play,” Matvey said. “So go out and give yourselves a chance to play the game you love, no matter what the circumstance is. You hold your head high. You come out of the game, win or lose you’re still good in my book.

“They kept fighting.”

Trinity connected on five 3-point shots in the first half as Dahlquist scored 14 points, and Clutter and Emily Venick added nine apiece.

The Hillers held Fox Chapel to four second-quarter points after taking a 23-10 first-quarter lead.

With both coaches substituting freely in the second half, the teams played to a 13-13 standoff with the clock running almost exclusively.

“It’s a tough moment with six seniors playing their final game,” Matvey said. “When we took the chance to come to Fox Chapel, we left somewhere that was very comfortable. We had a lot of success at South Park.”

In five seasons, Matvey led the Eagles to three WPIAL semifinals and one appearance in the PIAA semifinals, upsetting top-seeded Trinity in a first-round game.

“I told these seniors that the big reason we took that chance to come here is because of you,” said Matvey, who completed his second season at Fox Chapel. “I wish I had four years with this group.

“But they certainly helped to turn this program around and get it to where we wanted it to be, where we’re competing for section titles and winning playoff games. I couldn’t be more grateful.”

McConnell-Miller, a former WNBA coach with the Tulsa Shock and in college at Pitt, Illinois and Colorado, is in the second year of her first high school coaching job.

She’s still adjusting — even now — but she’s had a good time doing it with the current group at Trinity.

“This is a program,” she said. “As strong as our seniors are and as strong as our starters are, it’s important to develop the younger players, and we’ve been doing that all year. This is a strong class. I don’t have to motivate them.”

Fox Chapel and Matvey quickly found that out.

“They’re a very complete, very skilled team,” Matvey said. “They are so dynamic. We missed six layups in the first quarter, and a lot of them were uncontested. We knew what to expect, and we pretty much got it.”

Trinity entered the game leading the WPIAL in scoring with an average of 69.0 points per game. Its final total was 10 points below that average, but with the clock running down the stretch, the Hillers will take it.

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