Chartiers-Houston keeps Fort Cherry out of playoffs

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MCDONALD – Don’t expect much sympathy from Chartiers-Houston senior Tori Foster, especially when it comes to Fort Cherry.


Having never beaten the Rangers before this girls basketball season, Foster wanted nothing more than to deny Fort Cherry a trip to the postseason with a win Thursday night.


“Our goal was to keep them out of the playoffs,” Foster said.


That goal, thanks to 19 points, six rebounds and four steals from Foster, was accomplished, as Chartiers-Houston crushed the Rangers, 45-26.


The win ensured Chartiers-Houston (6-6, 13-8) of the No. 4 seed out of Section 4-AA, while Fort Cherry, which could have forced a tie – meaning both teams get in – will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season.


Which won’t sadden those associated with Chartiers-Houston, the same folks who watched the Rangers finish ahead of the Bucs each of the past three years while winning 65 games during that stretch.


“It’s a great win for us,” said Chartiers-Houston coach Veronica Sansom, whose team was 0-6 against Fort Cherry the three years prior to this one. “We’ve had a mental hurdle to overcome with Fort Cherry for some time now.


“To beat them two times in one season, that’s good for us. Our seniors had been losing to them for a long time.”


Besides Foster, senior Ashley Balzer helped the cause with 10 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.


Addy Knetzer, the only junior in the Bucs’ starting lineup, had seven points and 16 rebounds.


Despite scoring 81 of Fort Cherry’s 108 points the past four games, Jenna Lucas was held to five points, the effect of a triangle-and-two zone that Chartiers-Houston used to also limit Rachel Bellhy, who finished with six points.


Foster took away Bellhy, who’s still recovering from a sprained ankle, and Amanda Balzer (six points) took away Lucas. Tina Bellhy finished with 11 points to lead the Rangers (4-8, 7-11).


“We knew they were going to go with that triangle-and-two,” first-year Fort Cherry coach Gary Kacsur said. “We were prepared, but the shots just didn’t go in.”


Especially not early.


Chartiers-Houston jumped out to a 10-4 lead after the first quarter, getting the first four points of the game from Amanda Balzer (six points).


Fort Cherry pulled to within a basket at 12-10 with 4:09 left in the second quarter, but Chartiers-Houston scored the final eight points of the half, with Foster stealing an inbounds pass for an easy bucket to make it 20-10 at the break.


“We pressed today, and we kept their high-scorers from scoring,” said Foster, whose 19 points were a season-high.


Foster scored seven points in the third quarter – part of a 17-11 edge for the Bucs – to turn it into a 16-point game following a layup from Knetzer two minutes into the fourth.


All that was left then was to exhale a little bit and enjoy what little bit of revenge the Bucs were able to extract.


“It was a real big deal to us because we waited so long to get here and have the confidence to play this team and know that we can win,” Ashley Balzer said. “We just worked real hard. It’s a big deal for us, especially the seniors because since we were freshmen we’ve been wanting to beat Fort Cherry. And every year we fall short. This year we succeeded.”


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