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Fox Chapel freshmen step up in victory

| Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, 11:18 p.m.
Fox Chapel's Taylor Cohen (23) attempts a lay-up against Plum's Krista Pietropola during their game on Friday night at Plum High School. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
Plum's Ange Borriello (left) fends off Fox Chapel's Rachel Ranii during their game on Friday at Plum. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch

Fox Chapel arrived a little late to Plum on Friday night because its bus sputtered going up some steep hills.

Plum knows the feeling.

A pair of Fox Chapel's freshmen guards made the last eight minutes an uphill climb for the host Mustangs as Taylor Cohen and Kayla Slovenec combined to score 19 of their team's 20 fourth-quarter points to seal a 50-38 win in Section 2-AAAA.

Cohen put up 12 of her game-high 18 points in the fourth, and Slovenec had seven of her 10 in the last eight minutes as the Foxes (10-3, 5-1) pulled away to break a two-game losing streak.

Cohen also had five steals, including a lunging grab-and-go for a layup to push the lead to 10, at 38-28, with 3:42 to play.

“Coach said we need to play all 32 minutes,” Cohen said. “That's what we're working on doing. Others have to be able to step up when teams do well on Erin (Mathias).”

Plum (9-4, 3-2), which had won three straight, matched up well with Fox Chapel. The Mustangs used their size inside, with 6-foot-3 sophomore Courtney Zezza and 6-foot junior Aly Weifenbaugh, to counter Fox Chapel junior standout Erin Mathias. A 6-3 center who's verbally committed to Duke, Mathias was limited to two field goals and nine points but grabbed 22 rebounds.

“It's amazing how our freshmen keep gaining confidence,” Mathias said. “For them to be able to take over like that shows how much better they're getting.”

A once-clogged lane seemed to open late, as Cohen and Slovenec — 5-7 and 5-6, respectively — slashed their way to easy layups.

“Cohen did whatever she wanted in that fourth quarter,” Plum coach Bernie Pucka said. “They really slowed us down, and we couldn't rebound and get out and fast-break.”

In the fourth, Cohen and Slovenec each went to the line five times. Cohen hit five and Slovenec four, the last of which made it 48-36 with 40 seconds left.

“There are very few freshmen who can come in and do what those two girls are doing,” Fox Chapel coach Meghan Meabon said. “We've been talking about believing in ourselves and being more consistent.”

The teams traded leads in the first half, with Fox Chapel taking a 20-17 edge into halftime.

Fox Chapel went up, 26-18, in the third before Plum cut the margin to 30-24 heading into the fourth.

Senior guard Alexa Yaksich added 10 points for Fox Chapel. Junior guard Krista Pietropola led Plum with 12 points, including eight in the fourth.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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