Fox Chapel tops Hempfield; falls short against North Allegheny
Coach Zach Skrinjar's Fox Chapel boys varsity basketball team opened the first round of the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs on Feb. 20 with a 51-43 victory over Hempfield.
Brian Papich led the Foxes with 23 points.
“It was nice to get that first win,” Skrinjar said. “The keys to the game were that we did a good job of being patient on offense, boxing out and not allowing second shots.
“Brian also played a key role on both ends of the court, leading us in scoring as well as holding their leading scorer to five points in the second half.”
Skrinjar said several other players were also key contributors.
“We had guys like Billy Urso and Connor picking up the slack and we needed that,” Skrinjar said. “Matt (D'Amico) didn't light up the scoreboard but he contributed in other ways. It was again a total team effort to pull out a big playoff victory.
“It's nice to have a pair of guys like Matt and Brian who can carry the load. Brian knew he had to pick up his game and he did.”
That win moved the Foxes into the quarterfinals against No. 2 seed North Allegheny in a game played on Saturday at North Hills High School.
The game was close throughout and the Foxes trailed by 52-51 entering the fourth quarter before the Tigers blitzed the them 27-10 to move on to the semifinals with a 79-61 victory.
“Going into the game, we knew we had to contain their dribble-drive offense, close out on their shooters and contest all their shots,” Skrinjar said. “We also felt we would have to limit our turnovers and we didn't do too well. We had 13 turnovers.
“In that fourth quarter, we were doing a lot of uncharacteristic things that we weren't doing the first three quarters. I don't know if fatigue was a factor but give North Allegheny credit. They did what they had to do to win the game. Now, we will play the waiting game.”
The Foxes will qualify for the PIAA playoffs if North Allegheny wins the WPIAL title.
Marty Stewart is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-782-2123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.