Valley high school basketball notebook: Fox Chapel getting scoring from 3

Fox Chapel boys basketball coach Zach Skrinjar talks to his team during a scrimmage earlier this season.
Fox Chapel boys basketball coach Zach Skrinjar talks to his team during a scrimmage earlier this season.
Photo by Jan Pakler | for The Herald
| Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

It's not uncommon for teams to have a one-two scoring punch.

But Fox Chapel's scoring options this season are three-pronged.

Senior guards Matt D'Amico and Brian Papich have combined with junior guard Billy Urso to average an impressive 59.8 of the team's 74 points per game.

D'Amico, who has had games of 29, 35 and 34 points, leads at 24.8. Urso, who hit seven 3-pointers in a game, is next at 18.0, and Papich averages 17.0.

Coach Zach Skrinjar said there are plenty of points to go around because the trio shares the ball without tension.

“We practice a lot of passing and spacing drills, and we have a pretty wide-open offense that allows anyone to get a touch or a shot,” Skrinjar said. “We preach, on a daily basis, to share the ball and to move it on a pass and good things will happen.”

D'Amico is on pace to become Fox Chapel's all-time leading scorer. He has 1,074 career points, second on the school's scoring list. Dave Ostrosky, a 1989 graduate who played at Vermont, is first with 1,312 points.

The Foxes responded well from their first loss of the season. After dropping a 66-63 decision to unranked Franklin Regional, they ran past then-unbeaten Taylor Allderdice, 78-69, the following night. D'Amico and Papich posted double-doubles — D'Amico with 34 points and 10 rebounds, Papich with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Skrinjar didn't think defense was an issue against Franklin Regional.

“Defense hasn't been the problem as much as letting teams have second-chance points,” he said. “We actually focus much more on defense in practice and on stations and breakdowns than we do on offense.

“We are sill undersized, and if we don't box out, we are going to put ourselves in the position to have more nights like we did (against Franklin Regional).”

On a roll

The Apollo-Ridge girls began the season with a new coach and new offensive and defensive schemes, but it hasn't taken the team long to adjust.

It's early, but coach Jim Callipare has his 6-1 team thinking that a return to the playoffs for the first time since 2010 is a legitimate possibility.

“The kids are buying into our system and having fun in doing so,” Callipare said. “The willingness of the girls to learn a new approach and system has been critical to our success so far.”

Apollo-Ridge has yet to play a home game but will host its customary holiday tournament.

Smith returns

Apollo-Ridge junior Alex Smith missed three games (personal reasons) but made a strong return Wednesday. He scored a game-high 21 points in a 61-49 victory over Kittanning to push the Vikings' record to 6-0.

“We did pretty well without him,” coach Matt Gourley said. “Our bench stepped up and filled in nicely for him. But, obviously, I would much rather have him in the lineup.”

Heilman out

Ford City's rising 6-foot-6 sophomore forward, Brandon Heilman, has missed the Sabers' past three games with a stress fracture in his right leg. Sabers coach Greg Hutcherson said Heilman could be out another week.

Section 1 showdown

The Knoch boys have sprinted to a 5-0 start, holding teams to an average of 35.6 points in the process. But the Knights will face their first ranked opponent of the season Friday night: Class-AAA No. 3 Indiana (5-0, 1-0).

The Little Indians struggled against unranked Highlands on Tuesday before pulling out a 58-50 win.

The winner of Friday's showdown in South Butler County will remain on top in Section 1-AAA. Knoch is alone in first at 2-0.

Ranking 'em

Four Alle-Kiski teams began the week inside the Trib Total Media top five in their respective classes.

Fox Chapel was No. 3 in boys Class AAAA prior to a loss to Franklin Regional. In the girls rankings, Burrell is No. 2 in Class AA, Fox Chapel No. 3 in Class AAAA and St. Joseph No. 3 in Class A.

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at

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