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Local notebook: Mathias looking to add perimeter game

| Monday, May 13, 2013, 12:21 a.m.
Robert King | for The Valley News Dispatch
Fox Chapel's Erin Mathias fights for a loose ball with Butler's Alyssa DiPippa on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, at North Allegheny High School.

Erin Mathias is a huge fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant.

If all goes as planned, the Fox Chapel junior center will play more like the NBA star next season — roaming the perimeter more and forcing teams to close out.

The 6-foot-3 Mathias is making a concerted effort to improve her outside game, particularly her 3-point shooting. The Duke University recruit has been a dominant post player. She had a 30-rebound game as a freshman and averaged a double-double this past season (17.6 points, 13.6 rebounds) for the improved Foxes (18-6).

Her size alone is a weapon. But she thinks she can be doubly effective away from the hoop.

Mathias knows she may need a more well-rounded role to push Fox Chapel over the top next season and to become a future impact player in the ACC.

“I am capable of handling the ball more, but I want to do more from 3-point range,” Mathias said. “That's what I want to work on in the offseason.”

Mathias has worked with personal instructors such as strength and conditioning coach Bob Geiselhart, but she will work with Chartiers Valley boys coach Tim McConnell in the near future.

She's playing AAU with a Western Pennsylvania Bruins team that includes standouts Naje Gibson of Seton-La Salle, Blackhawk's Chassidy Omogrosso, Chartiers Valley's Alexa Golden and Burrell's Sydney Bordonaro.

Cornuet to Geneva

Burrell senior Shane Cornuet will continue his football career at Geneva College.

The 6-foot, 220-pounder also considered Westminster and Thiel. A two-year starter at offensive tackle and defensive end at Burrell, he was recruited as a defensive end.

20 under 20

Plum native Bjorn Fratangelo was picked to the United States Tennis Association's 20 under 20 list of players to watch. The 19-year-old became the first American since John McEnroe in 1977 to win the boys singles title at the French Open in 2011. He won his first professional title earlier this year and defeated Gerald Melzer of Austria, 7-5, 6-3, to win the USA F12 Challenger clay court title Sunday in Orange Park, Fla.

New soccer coach

Plum's new boys soccer coach is Dave Baleno, who takes over for his brother, Mike.

Mike Baleno, who coached the Mustangs for five seasons, resigned for personal reasons.

Dave Baleno, a former assistant to his brother, was a four-year letterwinner for the Mustangs, graduating in 2000. Plum's last WPIAL playoff win came in the 2005 Class-AAA title game, a 2-1 victory over Peters Township.

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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