Tough Loss for Girls’ Basketball Team

PAUL SCHOFIELD | Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, TRIB-LIVE
Hempfield senior Michelle Burns was a game-time decision for Friday’s Section 2-6A battle against Fox Chapel.

She left with a walking boot on her right foot — she wasn’t doing a Ben Roethlisberger impersonation — after she had helped the Spartans girls basketball team score a key section win.

Burns played all 32 minutes of the game, scored 10 points, and helped Hempfield hold on for a 41-31 victory which kept the Spartans alone in third place in the section.

“We didn’t know if she would play or not,” Hempfield junior Alison Podkul said. “It was iffy, but she gutted it out.”

Hempfield (9-3, 4-2) raced out to a 10-0 lead as Podkul, who finished with a game- and career-high 18 points, drained two 3-pointers.

But Fox Chapel, playing without senior Gabby Badway (ankle), wouldn’t go away. The Foxes scored the next eight points to pull to within 10-8.

Hempfield, which never relinquished the lead, had problems making shots. It was 6 for 25 from the field in the first half and finished 13 of 44. Fox Chapel was 12 of 43.

The Foxes (7-8, 1-5) had a couple chances to tie the score or take the lead, but they couldn’t get a shot to fall.

Hempfield led 16-12 at halftime and 30-16 heading into the fourth quarter. Burns hit two 3-pointers in the third quarter and hit two clutch free throws in the fourth quarter.

“We needed this win in a big way,” Hempfield coach Aaron Epps said. “I liked the looks we were getting in the first half, but we just couldn’t get them to fall. Normally, we make those shots.”

Burns said she’s playing with a stress fracture in her right foot.

Podkul said there was nothing special set up for her to score.

“We just ran our regular offense,” Podkul said. “Our game plan didn’t change, and we didn’t take this team lightly because we beat them earlier. They just played hard.”

Ali Belgiovane finished with nine points for the Spartans. She hit a clutch 3-pointer in the fourth quarter and was 4 for 4 at the foul line in the second half.

“Even though the shots weren’t falling, we continued to play good defense,” Epps said. “That’s what ultimately won the game for us.”

Sarah Sheerer came off the bench to lead Fox Chapel with 12 points.