Fox Chapel pulls away from Plum in Section 2 rivalry contest
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 pulled away to break a two-game losing streak.
“We allowed both of them to go off (in the fourth quarter),” Plum head coach Bernie Puchka said.
“They got to the rim and hit their foul shots.”
Plum, 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 is verbally committed to Duke, Mathias was limited to two field goals and nine points but grabbed 22 rebounds.
“We did a really nice job against Mathias,” Pucka said. “If you do that, you normally have a good chance to win the game.”
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,” 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.
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.
Plum entered this week 3-2 in Section 2 play and tied with Franklin Regional for third place behind Fox Chapel (5-1) and Gateway (5-0).
The Mustangs were slated to close out the first half of the section slate against the Panthers on Tuesday, and the contest was to be played past the deadline for this week's edition.
Plum kicks off the second cycle Friday at 6 p.m. with a rematch with Woodland Hills at Plum High School.
The Wolverines, 1-4 in section before a scheduled game against Penn Hills on Tuesday, currently are on the outside of the four WPIAL playoff positions from the section.
Woodland Hills, seen by some as a section favorite at the start of the season with multi-year starters Desiree Garland and Delrika Jones-Carey leading the way, suffered a 46-39 loss to Plum when the teams met on Dec. 14.
Trib Total Media staff writer Michael Love contributed to this report.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org