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Fox Chapel stops Gateway to pull into 1st place tie

| Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, 11:40 p.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch Fox Chapel's Brian Papich dunks the ball over Gateway's Thomas Kromka (34) and Jordan Landfair (1) late in the fourth quarter of their game at Fox Chapel on Friday, February 1, 2013.

A five-game homestand is rare in high school basketball.

And Fox Chapel would like to take full advantage of that rarity.

The Foxes scored a 51-37 victory over Gateway on Friday night to move into a first-place tie in Section 2-AAAA.

Fox Chapel (15-4 overall) and Central Catholic are on top with 10-2 marks, while Gateway (12-4 overall) is one-half game behind at 9-2.

“We showed tonight we might not be the biggest team,” junior Brian Papich said, “but we play with heart.”

With the score tied at 8 late in the first quarter, Billy Urso's 3-pointer ignited a 12-0 Foxes surge to take control of the game before a large senior night crowd.

“I'm sure every coach in America says you've got to defend the home court,” Fox Chapel coach Zach Skrinjar said. “We played our first six section games on the road and we knew that come the end of January and into February, our games would all be at home. We practice here every day, we sweat here every day and we put the time in every day.”

The Foxes went 12 of 15 from the free-throw line and were patient on offense, looking for lanes to drive to the hoop after patient, though often off-balanced, passes.

“We drill it into their heads to look around and get the ball out of your hands,” Skrinjar said. “It might look risky to some people, but we see it every day in practice and it's kind of the norm to us.”

After scoring just four points in the first half, Matt D'Amico, the A-K Valley's second-leading scorer, fired in 11 points in the third quarter and finished with 19.

Papich had 13 points and seven rebounds.

Urso hit a trio of 3-pointers and finished with 11 points. He had five assists, including an alley-oop pass to Papich, whose dunk sent the camo-clad student section into a frenzy.

”We were 16 of 53 from the field, we were 6 of 13 from the foul line and we turned the ball over 16 times,” Gateway coach Mitch Adams said. “Some of our kids were feeling too good about themselves and, hopefully, this is a wake-up call.”

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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