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Plum boys basketball team stands alone in section

Dan Speicher | For Valley News Dispatch
Austin Dedert (20) of the Plum Mustangs, sinks a free throw against the Fox Chapel Foxes, on their way to a 71-67 win over the Foxes in Fox Chapel on Tuesday February 4, 2014.

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By George Guido
Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, 10:36 p.m.

For the first time in the school's 75-year basketball history, the Plum boys basketball team won a section title outright.

Plum secured Section 2-AAAA honors Tuesday night with a 71-67 victory at Fox Chapel.

The Mustangs, 11-2 in section play, are two games ahead of their nearest rival with one game to go.

Sophomore James Edwards scored a career-high 26 points, while senior forward Nick Stotler added 21 for Plum. Center Austin Dedert had 17 points and 18 rebounds.

“It's a wonderful feeling. We worked so hard for this,” Dedert said. “We've been talking about this as a big goal of ours, and to finally achieve it is a great feeling.”

The Mustangs, rated fifth in this week's Trib Total Media Class AAAA poll, are 17-2.

Fox Chapel (15-5, 8-5) needs to win at Central Catholic on Friday night to clinch the school's 25th WPIAL playoff appearance.

Brian Papich led the Foxes with 30 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter. Matt D'Amico chipped in 23 points.

Plum had a 49-40 lead early in the fourth period, but Fox Chapel chipped away at the advantage.

A 3-pointer by Papich with 42.3 seconds left allowed the Foxes to slice the lead to 65-63.

The Mustangs had trouble getting the ball inbounds. Dedert was trapped in the corner with 27 seconds left and had to use Plum's last timeout.

After Edwards was fouled and made both free throws, D'Amico made four foul shots in nine seconds to bring the Foxes within 68-67.

Following two Stotler free throws, Dedert's rebound of a second missed Foxes shot with three seconds to go iced the victory.

“It was another typical Plum-Fox Chapel game,” Mustangs coach Ron Richards said. “That was a great high school basketball game. I told the kids that a heck of an accomplishment for that group.

“We went 7-0 on the road in our section; I feel it is the most competitive section.”

The Foxes didn't committed a turnover until there was 5:19 left in the half and had just five miscues overall.

Fox Chapel coach Zack Skrinjar felt Plum's six first-half 3-pointers was a key to the outcome.

“We could have done a better job defending,” Skrinjar said. “Give them credit for that. Down the stretch, they also made their free throws.”

The Foxes tallied 27 points in the fourth period, but it wasn't enough.

“We've done that all year, so that wasn't the surprising part,” Skrinjar said. “The surprising part was we didn't quite get it done. But they made their foul shots, like we made our foul shots last Friday, and that's part of basketball.”

Each team had 27 rebounds.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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