Hempfield girls harass way to win over Fox Chapel
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Hempfield girls basketball coach Aaron Epps shrugged as he spoke about the 14 points his players scored in the third quarter Tuesday night during their PIAA Class AAAA second-round game at Gateway and noted that his girls led the WPIAL's largest classification in scoring during the regular season.
What made Epps more excitable stemmed from what the Spartans did at the other end of the floor against Fox Chapel during that fateful third quarter.
Hempfield (19-9), the WPIAL runner-up, broke open a tight contest by holding Fox Chapel to four points in the decisive quarter of its 54-44 victory. The Foxes (20-6), who finished third in the WPIAL, cut their deficit down to six after Hempfield's run put them behind 38-24, but they never came closer.
“I just think everything was predicated off our defense,” said Epps, whose Spartans opened the quarter on a 12-0 run. “I mean, 14 points isn't a lot of points for us. But we held them to four. Like I've said all year, we can score with anybody. But my primary concern is: Are we rebounding, and are we defending?”
Hempfield will play North Allegheny in the PIAA quarterfinals Friday at a site and time to be determined.
The Spartan who sparked the third-quarter run with a drive down the left lane, senior guard Monica Burns, actually became the offensive facilitator after spending much of the first half as its best finisher.
Burns, the team's lone senior, scored nine of her 12 first-half points in the second quarter, including a bucket as time expired to put Hempfield ahead 26-24 at halftime.
In the third quarter, she had just three points. But Hempfield hardly struggled, as its press caused nine Fox Chapel turnovers and set up easy scoring opportunities for junior guards Leah Knizner and Lexi Irwin, who combined for 16 points, including 12 in the second half.
Burns, meanwhile, tallied a game-high 26 points. She made 12 of 13 free throws and two 3's.
“In our halftime talk, it was all about me, because this would be the end of my career if we didn't win today,” Burns said. “(My teammates), they're all my best friends and all my sisters, and I know they all wanted to keep it going and play with me, play for me.”
While Burns put Hempfield on her back in the second quarter, 6-foot-3 forward Erin Mathias did the same with Fox Chapel, as she scored eight of her 12 first-half points during that period.
Sophomore guard Taylor Cohen added eight for the Foxes.
Mathias, a Duke recruit who made 6 of 7 free throw attempts and finished with 18 points, factored heavily in Fox Chapel's 14-9 edge in first-half rebounds. The Foxes grabbed eight offensive rebounds, and Mathias alone had two putbacks.
Able to create fast-break opportunities with ball pressure in the second half, Hempfield went 8 for 16 from the field.
“We knew our inside game was the stronger part against them, so their chance was to harass our guards as much as possible, and they absolutely did,” said Fox Chapel coach Meghan Meabon, whose team will lose just two players, Mathias and forward Patricia Panos, to graduation. “If we have to take a positive from here, it's that our young guards can maybe move forward with that experience and realize that with a little bit of confidence and a little bit of practice, we can come back stronger next year.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.