No. 1 Mt. Lebanon rallies past Fox Chapel
Fox Chapel knew there was a tough road ahead in the WPIAL Class AAAA girls basketball playoffs.
The Foxes knew they would have to face No. 1 seed Mt. Lebanon at some point if they wanted to prove their worth in the tournament.
But Fox Chapel showed it might be a year away from pulling an upset.
Mt. Lebanon took a late third-quarter lead and held on for a 45-42 win over No. 8 seed Fox Chapel in a quarterfinal game on Friday night at North Allegheny.
“The two things that win games are getting the ball in the paint and winning the boards,” Fox Chapel coach Meghan Meabon said. “We didn't do that very well tonight.”
Mt. Lebanon (22-2) wasn't happy with its first-half performance, either.
“I thought in the first half, we started to take some outside shots. We couldn't hit the ocean,” Mt. Lebanon coach Dori Oldaker said. “We really like to try to go inside-out first, and we didn't do that.”
Fox Chapel (18-6) made the most of the early play, jumping to a 12-10 halftime lead.
Erin Mathias, a 6-foot-3 junior center who scored eight of her game-high 18 points, led the way.
Fox Chapel extended its lead in the second half to 18-10 with a pair of fast-break baskets from freshmen Kayla Slovenec and Taylor Cohen.
Mt. Lebanon responded with a timeout. It may have recharged the Blue Devils, who answered with a 19-7 run for a 29-25 lead after three quarters.
The second-half adjustments for Mt. Lebanon paid off.
“We tried to get some movement.” Oldaker said. “We tried to bring out their bigs (to the foul line) and try to attack with a screen at the high post.”
Mt. Lebanon never relinquished its lead, but Fox Chapel didn't let the Blue Devils get too comfortable despite being down by 11 points midway through the fourth.
Slovenec scored 12 of her 13 points in the second half.
“(They need) believing and confidence instead of over-thinking,” Meabon said. “They just need to play.”
Fox Chapel still can make the PIAA playoffs if Mt. Lebanon wins the WPIAL title.
Dave Yohe is a freelance writer.