Class AA No. 2 Burrell girls shut down Fox Chapel, Mathias
Burrell coach Meghan Ziemianski said the motto of this year's Burrell team is “execution.”
If Friday night's opener is any indication, the Bucs will be doing a lot of executing this season.
Burrell excelled in all phases of the game, particularly defense, and rolled to a 48-30 victory over Class AAAA No. 3 Fox Chapel in the first game of the Rex Energy Tournament at Seneca Valley.
The Burrell defense double-teamed Foxes center Erin Mathias, holding the Duke recruit to five points while forcing 19 Fox Chapel turnovers.
Burrell, the second-ranked team in Class AA, will face Seneca Valley in the tournament finals at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Foxes will play Hampton in the consolation game at 4:30 p.m.
Fox Chapel jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but the Bucs began playing more aggressive defense and took the lead for good, 13-11, on a basket by Natalie Myers to beat the first-quarter buzzer.
“A little bit of jitters in the beginning — it's different when you put the uniforms on for the first time,” Ziemianski said. “But it took us a little time to get comfy.”
Burrell held the Foxes to just six points in the second quarter and three in the fourth.
“We knew it was going to be a very tough game for us,” Fox Chapel coach Meghan Meabon said. “With our inexperience right now and trying to work on a lot of things, going against a talented Burrell team, we knew we'd have our hands full.”
Mathias, a 6-foot-3 senior, didn't score until the 5:32 mark of the second quarter.
“I had two big girls doubling down on her, Myers and Jessica Cercone, and that helped,” Ziemianski said. “And we just played great ‘D.' ”
Mathias, however, managed to get her share of rebounds with 11.
Myers led the Bucs with 16 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. Junior Sydney Bordonaro had 11.
The Bucs also passed proficiently.
Kelsey Oddis scored three field goals, all on assists from Bordonaro.
“I think that's where team chemistry comes in,” Ziemianski said. “By no means are we great passers. We tell them all the time to keep their heads up for passes.
“But when you get them together, they move the ball well.”
Sophomore guard Taylor Cohen led Fox Chapel with eight points.
“We were very happy at the beginning of the game because that's the most patient we've seen our team play,” Meabon said. “We seemed to be under control at the start of the game.
“We seemed to be calm and allow the game to develop.”
Fox Chapel couldn't get closer than eight points in the second half.
George Guido is a freelance writer.