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Fox Chapel girls enter 2nd half unbeaten but with work yet to do

| Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, 10:12 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Fox Chapel's Erin Mathias scores past Chartiers Valley's Kristin McGeough during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, at Fox Chapel.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Fox Chapel's Erin Mathias scores during a game against Chartiers Valley Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Fox Chapel.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Fox Chapel's Erin Mathias grabs a rebound over Chartiers Valley's Katie Doyle during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Fox Chapel.

It will take more than a 6-0 record in the first half of Section 2-AAAA play for Fox Chapel girls basketball coach Meghan Meabon to feel comfortable.

“There has been nothing that has come easy in the first half of section play,” Meabon said. “We took this weekend to enjoy the first half, but it's done and gone. We know we really need to step up our game.”

After sharing the section title with Gateway last season, the Foxes (11-3) have asserted themselves as the favorite to come out on top this season.

But the season is far from over, and Meabon faces the challenge of keeping her team focused on the task at hand.

“Obviously in the back of our minds we know any team would love to be in that WPIAL championship game,” Meabon said. “We just want to get a little bit better with each opponent when we see them the second time.”

Right now it seems like the rest of the section has a greater need to prepare for its second round of games with Fox Chapel.

Anchored by 6-foot-3 senior forward Erin Mathias, Fox Chapel is holding opponents to 38.1 points per game, the best in Class AAAA. No Section 2 team has been able to crack the Foxes' 3-2 zone defense so far.

Mathias won't take credit for that, though.

“Our defensive energy definitely fuels off the guards,” Mathias said. “The three guards up top are quick, talk well and have long arms and get a lot of steals.”

With a young supporting cast, Mathias has been relied upon offensively, averaging 16.3 points.

Fellow starting forward Vanessa Blazer is a junior, but sophomores Kayla Slovenec (9.1 points) and Taylor Cohen (8.2), and freshman Gabby Badway (6.1) make up the starting guard trio.

“(Mathias) has a lot of good advice to tell us without being bossy,” Slovenec said. “She knows what she's doing and has played a lot of basketball with other guards.”

So far, the Foxes are scoring 51.1 points per game, good for third in the section and 16th in Class AAAA.

Fortunately for Meabon, her young players are eager to put in the work required to grow stronger, both mentally and physically.

“They are always ready to go,” Mathias said. “They come to practice every day ready to put in the work. It's nice to have their energy.”

So far, the defensive dominance has been enough to overcome any shortage of offensive output.

“Sometimes we play down to who we're playing,” Slovenec said. “But the way we're playing now, just being in the lead is working for us. We don't need to blow the other team out.”

Fox Chapel hosts Franklin Regional at 6 p.m. Tuesday in a rematch of the Foxes' 59-47 win Dec. 17; it was the only section game an opponent scored more than 40 points.

The game is part of a “Pink Out” doubleheader, with the boys game to follow at 7:30.

Proceeds will benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Fund. Fundraising activities include raffle items, such as a football signed by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, a bake sale and 3-point shooting contest.

Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at ghorvath@tribweb.com.

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