JACKSON TWP — Its 51-47 defeat of Fox Chapel Monday night accomplished two things for Seneca Valley's girls basketball team.
First, it avenged a 50-46 loss at the hands of the Foxes last month. Secondly, it puts the Raiders in position to get a much better seed in the upcoming WPIAL Class 6A playoffs.
While both squads had already clinched a postseason berth, the Raiders (14-6, 8-5) can lay claim to third place in Section 1 outright with a victory at Butler on Thursday.
The Foxes (12-7, 7-6) close the section slate with a home game Friday against Norwin, which remains in the running for a section championship.
“Coming in, we still had a shot of getting a seed between six and eight,” said Foxes' coach Marty Matvey. “This (loss) hurts.”
The revenge factor also had an impact on SV's mind-set entering the game.
“They beat us before, but we wanted to show that we can be the better team,” said SV point guard Jess Bickart, who scored 14 points. “This win means a lot.”
The Raiders, who had led by as many as 13 points earlier in the game, stumbled in the fourth quarter. Due in large part to turnovers, they attempted just three field goals in the first 6:30 of the final period and, thanks to baskets from Domenica Delaney, Elsie Smith and Ellie Schwartzman, Fox Chapel cut its deficit to 42-39 with 2:51 to play.
Bickart, Olivia West and Jaden Davinsizer each made a pair of free throws and West added a basket in the final minute to keep the Raiders ahead.
Delaney gave the Foxes one last shot of hope. Her trey with 14 seconds left sliced SV's edge to 50-47, but the comeback attempt ended there.
“I think we handled the pressure better late in the game,” said SV coach Dorothea Epps. “We looked to the leadership from Jess Bickart and tried to get the ball in her hands as much as possible and took some time off the clock.”
The Raiders led 31-18 just 90 seconds into the second half. But led by Schwartzman, a junior center, the Foxes began to close the gap. She scored 10 of her team-high 17 points in the third quarter.
Schwartzman ended the game with 12 rebounds.
“A double-double is a normal game for her,” said Matvey.
“I thought we did a decent job on her in the first half,” Epps said of Schwartzman. “Then we just stopped putting a body on her.”
Seneca Valley led 19-14 and 29-18 at halftime. Davinsizer tallied 13 of her 19 points in the first two quarters.
“We knew it was (Senior Recognition Night) coming in here and we had to be ready for a fight,” said Matvey. “I thought we played well early, just not well enough to match their energy.”
The Raiders have now won four straight games and have the chance to enter the playoffs on a six-game winning streak.
“We have confidence right now and we need to keep it up for the playoffs,” said Bickart.
FOX CHAPEL 47
Domenica Delaney 4 2-2 13, Gabby Guerrieri 3 1-2 9, Elsie Smith 3 0-0 6, Ally Hager 1 0-0 2, Ellie Schwartzman 6 5-8 17, Marissa Ritter 0 0-0 0, Claire Fenton 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 8-12 47.
SENECA VALLEY 51
Olivia West 2 3-6 7, Maddie Karchut 3 3-4 9, Jess Bickart 4 2-2 12, Jaden Davinsizer 7 2-2 19, Haley Cramer 2 0-0 4, Kaitlyn Wolfe 0 0-0 0, Morgan Sinan 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 10-14 51.
Fox Chapel 14 4 14 15 — 47
Seneca Valley19 10 11 11 — 51
3-point goals: Fox Chapel 5 (Delaney 3, Guerrieri 2); Seneca Valley 5 (Davinsizer 3, Bickart 2).
Thursday: Seneca Valley at Butler