Wednesday, January 27, 2021 | 8:36 PM
Kennedie Montue averaged 22.1 points a game last year and helped the Plum girls basketball team to a 14-7 record and to within a game of the program’s first section championship.
Last year’s Valley News Dispatch Player of the Year and multi-year all-conference performer has picked up where she left off, averaging 24.8 points and nearly 10 rebounds a contest for the Mustangs. Plum, 2-3 overall and 2-2 Section 2-5A, hosts rival Fox Chapel (2-5, 2-3) on Thursday.
“With a lot of the young players we have, we are still working to get better as a team,” said Montue, who has scored 30 points twice this season — vs. Upper St. Clair on Jan. 14 and vs. Kiski Area on Jan. 19 — and 29 in a season-opening section win over Mars on Jan. 12.
“It’s still kind of a work in progress,” Montue said. “We have the ability to do some good things the rest of the season.”
Montue again has earned heavy attention from opposing defenses, which often check her with double and triple teams.
“Armstrong sat in 3-2 zone and triple-teamed me in the post,” said Montue, who scored 12 points in Tuesday’s 31-28 loss to the section-leading River Hawks (4-0, 3-0). “When things like that happen, I want to help get my teammates involved, knowing that somebody is going to be open. We like to work in transition where teams aren’t able to set up in their half-court defense as easily.”
Said Plum coach Steve Elsier: “Kennedie, I know, enjoys the competition and what teams try to throw at her, the way they defend her and try to take her out of the game She has been going hard and looking to make plays for herself and her teammates. Her big thing is to continue to score within the offense, stay positive and keep working on getting better.”
A delayed start at the beginning of preseason practices gave way to a week of workouts before high school athletics shutdown Dec. 12 halted Plum’s on-court momentum.
“With covid, I didn’t think we would be here right now, especially being able to play without having to wear mask. I am just glad we are in a position to actually play,” Montue said. “Everybody worked to get back in shape and back on the same page as a team. After a couple of practices, everyone was doing fine.”
Plum and Fox Chapel are two of four teams — Indiana and Mars are the others — hoping to garner a third win in the section Thursday. Indiana and Mars also square off Thursday.
“It’s definitely a big game for us,” Montue said. “If we play how we played against Mars and at the end of the Upper St. Clair game, we should be OK. We just need to play our game and not getting into playing the other team’s game.”
With her 12 points Tuesday against Armstrong, Montue has closed to within 115 of the all-time Plum girls basketball scoring record of 1,386 points established by Krista Pietropola in 2014.
Pietropola went on to play in college at Youngstown State and Slippery Rock.
“My mom really keeps track of that,” Montue said. “I score whatever I score, and she will update me on how much I have left to go. I just try to play my game, and the points come when they come. I don’t try to score to break a record. I don’t want to be selfish with the ball, because I know my teammates are there ready to make a play. As long as we win the game, I don’t care how much I score.”
Montue recalled the times in third or fourth grade when she watched Pietropola play and was grateful, in recent years, for the chance to talk about their respective standout Plum careers.
“(Pietropola) was such an amazing player,” Montue said. “She told me she knew that I would have a good chance to break the record and to keep up the good work. That meant a lot.
“It’s not an easy thing to do to challenge or reach someone’s scoring record. I am very thankful to be in the position I am in with a chance to own that record. I’ve always been motivated to be the best player I can be.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .