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Fox Chapel girls prepare for life without state’s player of the year

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Jan Pakler | For Trib Total Media
Fox Chapel girls basketball team run laps in the gym before practice.
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Dan Speicher | For Trib Total Media
Fox Chapel junior Kayla Slovenec practices Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, at Fox Chapel High School. Slovenec and another junior, Taylor Cohen, are entering their third seasons as starters.

There will be a huge difference in the Fox Chapel girls basketball team this season.

The Foxes will be without the Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year Erin Mathias, who is now a freshman at Duke.

New coach Jennifer Joyce O’Shea isn’t too concerned.

“Obviously, things will be different,” she said. “I don’t care what team it is, if you lose an all-state player, that player will be tough to replace.”

Her reason for optimism lies in the fact that there will be four talented starters returning.

“We had some very good guards last year and now it will be their turn to shine. We have a lot of players who are multi-talented, and we want everybody on the team to have dribbling skills, even our post players.”

Juniors Kayla Slovenic and Taylor Cohen, along with sophomore Gabby Badway, all have experience.

Slovenic and Cohen were in the starting lineup as freshmen while Badway also saw extensive playing time as a freshman.

Senior Vanessa Blazer and junior Anna Kelly will round out the starting five.

Also expected to contribute are seniors Madison Chajson and Ann Huwar, along with junior Sarah Sapsura.

“We’re trying to make everybody on the team a more versatile player and be able to play multiple positions,” O’Shea said.

Even though she wasn’t named coach until late in the summer, O’Shea said the team made up for lost time.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in the gym catching up and learning a new system,” she said. “The girls have accepted the challenge, and they’re anxious to start the season. We’re in a tough section and the team knows they have to give a total effort in practice and in the games.”

Marty Stewart is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-782-2123 or [email protected].

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