After suffering through a tough 2017-18 season, the Fox Chapel girls basketball team has bounced back in a big way.
Coach Jennifer O’Shea’s team finished 9-13, including a 2-8 section mark, last season and failed to make the playoffs. This season, they clinched a playoff berth with two weeks left in the regular season. As of Feb. 7, they were 13-6 overall and 8-5 in Section 1-6A with one section game left.
“After what we went through last season, I am especially pleased with how far these girls have come,” O’Shea said. “With only two starters returning, we have an infusion of younger players.”
Those returning starters are senior forward Meg Friday and junior guard Gabby Guerrieri. The 6-foot-1 Friday has grabbed 122 rebounds with 58 of them coming on the offensive end. Guerreri leads the team in scoring at 9.0 points a game. She’s also made 14 3-pointers to go with 24 assists.
“Gabby is a point guard, and we’ve needed her leadership out there,” O’Shea said.
Sophomore Ellie Schwartzman, who averages 8.9 points, leads the team with 164 rebounds including 50 off the offensive glass.
Junior Claire Fenton leads the team with 27 3-pointers and has an 8.3 scoring average. Sophomore guard Domenica Delaney has 20 3-pointers and averages 8.7 points.
O’Shea felt the team was more than capable to make a turnaround.
“We knew we would have to work hard to compete in a section with two of the best teams in the WPIAL in North Allegheny and Norwin,” she said. “But this group of girls doesn’t quit. More importantly, they are very coachable. They listen, and they want to get better.”
O’Shea has seen that improvement throughout the season.
“I am pleased with how our defense has progressed the second half of the season. Four of our section wins that were close the first time through were not the second time. That was because of the improved defense.”
She also feel the depth of this team has helped the turnaround.
“We have several different combinations we can put on the floor without missing a beat,” O’Shea said. “That enables us to press much more and to create an up-tempo game.”
“The bottom line is that they want to do better than last season. They’ve done that. Now, they want to concentrate on playing their best in the playoffs.”
Marty Stewart is a freelance writer.