Coach has high hopes for young team
Underclassmen will have an opportunity contribute right away on Fox Chapel's youthful girls basketball team.
The Foxes lost six players to graduation, and another moved out of the district. Only two starters are back from last season's playoff club.
"Inexperience on the varsity level is an issue," coach Jeremy Bennett said. "But I really like this team. Spring and summer was a good growth period for us."
For the first time in Bennett's six seasons at Fox Chapel, he won't have a Cowher in the lineup. Bennett, who coached Meg Cowher his first two seasons, lost 1,000-point scorer Lauren Cowher to graduation, and her younger sister, Lindsay, now lives in North Carolina.
Senior guard Catlyn Kriston and junior guard Veronica Badway are the only returning starters.
Bennett is thrilled to have Kriston, the school's career leader in 3-pointers. She is the team's lone senior.
"If I was only going to have one senior, I don't know if I could have picked anyone better than Cat for this group," Bennett said. "She leads by her actions, but she's become more vocal, and the kids have responded to her better.
"She's more of a leader every day, and that's been a big part of our progress."
Two new additions should help: junior guard Nikki Spina, a transfer from Trinity Christian, and junior guard Rachel Humphrey, a distance running standout.
"They'll make us a little more athletic and quicker," Bennett said.
The Foxes are moving back to familiar territory in Section 2-AAAA after two seasons in the north. Bennett likes a schedule that gives the Foxes eight exhibition games before getting into their section schedule.
"That's a good setting for us," he said. "I think this is a golden opportunity to surprise some people who won't be expecting much from us. I believe we have every opportunity to claim a playoff spot. That's our goal."
Fox Chapel opens by hosting its tip-off tournament Dec. 1 and 2.
Fox Chapel Foxes• Coach, years: Jeremy Bennett, 6th year.
• Last year's record, finish: 17-10, 3rd place Section 3-AAAA.
• Returning starters: Catlyn Kriston (Sr., 5-7, G), Veronica Badway (Jr., 5-6, G).
• Fast facts: The Foxes last won a WPIAL playoff game and qualified for the PIAA playoffs in 1999 before accomplishing both last season. ... The team allowed only 38.9 points per game, third best among Quad A teams. ... Catlyn Kriston set a school record with 50 3-pointers, breaking her own mark from the previous season (48). ... Kriston is the Foxes' career leader in threes (134).