Foxes healthy; prepared to do battle
The key numbers for the Fox Chapel High School girls basketball team last year were these — four knee surgeries and three concussions.
Those major injuries were the root cause of a losing season and a short bench all year long.
FC coach Meghan Meabon is hoping for a healthy and successful season this time around.
“It was bad enough when we lost Erin Mathias for the whole year but things just continued to snowball,” Meabon said.
“I've never experienced such devastating injuries to a team, as a coach or as a player.
“I wouldn't wish that kind of season on anybody.”
Mathias, a 6-foot-3 junior who gave a verbal commitment to Duke as a freshman, is healthy again and Meabon is confident that she will post better numbers than she did during her freshman year when she averaged a double-double in scoring and rebounding.
“Erin is very healthy. It's the strongest I've seen her,” Meabon said. “She's worked very hard to come back from the knee injury and she's stepped up her leadership both on and off the court.
“She's become more vocal. She's handling the fact that she'll have a target on her back this year very well. She knows that teams will be gearing up to stop her and she's ready for that challenge.”
Mathias, a co-captain, will be joined underneath by fellow co-captains Alexa Yaksich and Rachel Ranii, who both are seniors.
“Alexa started last year and she's experienced while Rachel is a tough player who's a strong leader,” Meabon said.
Anna Kelly, a 5-foot-10 freshman, will provide inside help off of the bench.
The Foxes will be very young at the guard spot.
Atalya Sunseri, a 5-foot-7 junior who started a lot last year, will be joined by freshmen Kayla Slovenec and Taylor Cohen. Meabon is confident the freshmen can handle the pressure.
“Our freshmen have been very impressive so far,” she said. “The team has embraced the young talent and they've molded in well.”
Meabon thinks that the team's unselfishness will be a strength.
“They are here to work as one and they learned a lot from last season,” Meabon said. “The adversity they faced will help us this season.
“As a team, the players understand each other's roles and are working to become a cohesive unit. Our balance will be an advantage for us, too.
“Our experience or lack of it will be an area of concern but, honestly, our goal is just to get better every practice and every game.”
The Foxes will face a bevy of talented section teams again.
“Plum has a nice crew returning and Gateway always gets good new players in their program,” Meabon said.
“Woodland Hills always turns into a scary team by midseason. They peak at the right time.”
If the Foxes can stay healthy, Meabon said, they will be in the mix.
“People don't know a lot about us,” Meabon said. “They haven't seen our young talent. We believe that we'll be competing for a playoff spot.”
Marty Stewart is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-782-2123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.