D'Amico's free throws lift Fox Chapel over McKeesport
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Considering the way the game went, it was fitting that free throws decided the outcome.
It was even more appropriate that the shots were taken by junior Matt D'Amico.
D'Amico made 13 of 13 from the line, including two with 2.3 seconds left, to lift Fox Chapel (11-4, 6-2) to a grueling 49-48 victory over McKeesport (10-4, 6-2) to complete the season sweep of its Section 2-AAAA foe.
“I know I'm a strong free throw shooter, and I know what I had to do,” D'Amico said.
Fox Chapel made 19 of 20 from the line. The Foxes made only 14 of 37 (37.8 percent) from the floor.
“We practice 1-and-1s, and we only practice like two or four at a time because in a game situation, you usually never shoot more than four, so shooting 10 or 20 at a time isn't realistic,” Fox Chapel coach Zach Skrinjar said.
“We try to put pressure on our guys with 1-and-1s ... and we've been doing it after they're winded, so it's like a game situation, and that method's been working.”
D'Amico, who finished with a game-high 23 points, started the scoring with a pair of free throws because of a bizarre and obscure technical foul called on McKeesport as it took the court.
“I guess that you're not allowed to go around the guys when you take the floor or go around a team, and they directed us one way, and we went the other,” McKeesport coach Corey Gadson said. “What angers me is the outside stuff like changing the way you take the floor, so instead of worrying about how we play basketball, we have to worry about how we warm up, and then we start with a tech.”
For the rest of the first half, things got worse for McKeesport. D'Amico had 15 points in the first half, and Brian Papich scored eight of his 14 before intermission to help the Foxes take a 29-16 lead at the half.
It wasn't until the third quarter when McKeesport, thanks to 14 points from bench players Damonje Walker, Matthew Sutton and Javon Tyson, made a serious run to get back into the game. The Tigers chipped away throughout the second half until Tyson scored his only basket with 7:17 left in the fourth quarter to tie it and Walker hit a clutch 3-pointer on the team's next possession to give them their first lead, 40-37, with 6:50 remaining.
“For some reason, something has been different coming out in the third quarter, so we're going to have to readjust, go back to the drawing board and try something else, I guess,” Skrinjar said.
Fox Chapel retook the lead with 31.1 seconds left when Papich hit a short jumper from the right of the key, but McKeesport guard Carlitto Acie made both ends of a two-shot foul to push the Tigers back in front, 48-47, with 10.6 seconds remaining. That set the stage for D'Amico and his clutch free throws.
“I am pretty comfortable at the line,” D'Amico said. “I just try to zone everything out and pretend I'm the only person in the gym and just shoot my free throws, and it worked for me.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KBarnes_Trib.
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