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Metheny's key steal sets up go-ahead 3-pointer in Bethel Park's playoff win

| Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, 8:24 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Bethel Park's Levi Metheny grabs a loose ball in front of Fox Chapel's David Brown in the second half Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, at North Hills High School.

Bethel Park's Josh Krafczynski made six 3-pointers and scored a game-high 20 points.

Fox Chapel's Brian Papich threw down a two-handed dunk late in the fourth quarter that put his team in front for the first time since midway through the second quarter.

Yet No. 9 seed Bethel Park's 49-45 victory over eighth-seeded Fox Chapel in a WPIAL Class AAAA first-round game Saturday at North Hills came down to a reserve's effort on defense.

Levi Metheny's strip of Matt D'Amico set up Krafczynski's 3-pointer from the right wing with 33 seconds left, giving the Black Hawks (18-5) a lead they would not relinquish.

“The momentum definitely switched whenever they got that dunk,” Metheny said. “I knew we needed to get the ball back.

“I knew if I could make that steal, one of my teammates would make the shot.”

Asked whether Metheny saw something that made him go for the steal, Bethel Park coach Ben O'Connor pointed to his chest and began to trace a shape.

“That's a play we diagram like this,” O'Connor said. “It's called heart.”

Which Metheny shows often as the Black Hawks' quarterback on Friday nights in the fall.

“Levi's a winner,” O'Connor said. “He's a football guy. He's a quarterback. He's a coach's son.

“Same as the rest of our team. It's never pretty. We just go play.”

Joey Mascaro contributed 11 points for Bethel Park, which advanced to the quarterfinals and will play No. 1 New Castle on Saturday, site/time to be determined.

Metheny's steal happened directly in front of the Fox Chapel bench, and Foxes coach Zach Skrinjar wasn't thrilled with the non-call.

“It was pretty obvious to me that he got fouled there,” Skrinjar said. “But that wasn't the way the official saw it. It happens. It didn't come down to that play, I don't think.”

Nearly didn't, anyway.

Bethel Park led 34-26 following a layup from Jake Dixon at 2:36 of the third, but Fox Chapel (17-6) scored 10 of the next 13 points, the final two coming on a bank shot from Papich with 5:27 left to make it 37-36.

Held to zero points in the first half, Papich scored all 16 of his game-high total in the second.

“We never feel like we're out of the game with the guys we have,” Skrinjar said. “That's been what we've done all year: pushing it in the fourth quarter. It's kind of what we expected to do at the end. We just didn't get it finished.”

Part of that was the job Bethel Park did on D'Amico. Fox Chapel's leading scorer was held to 11 points, or less than half of his season average.

O'Connor acknowledged having a specific plan to stop D'Amico, but he deflected credit for holding Fox Chapel 11 points below its season average.

“I wish I could stand here and say it was a great coaching philosophy or strategy,” O'Connor said. “Our kids just made one or two more plays than they did.”

Bethel Park led 13-12 after one, despite D'Amico's floater at the buzzer. Krafczynski converted twice from long range in the second, and the Black Hawks went into the locker room with a 25-20 edge.

Dixon scored all seven of his points in the third, helping Bethel Park build its biggest lead, but Fox Chapel closed fast. D'Amico's free throw at 1:53 capped a 9-3 run that lasted less than three minutes.

“I know Fox Chapel is a very good team,” Krafczynski said. “They like to score a lot of points in their section. That was our goal going into this game — to try and stop them.

Fox Chapel led 45-42 before Metheny's putback at 1:07 — giving him seven points — got the Black Hawks rolling. It also turned out to be the football player, the one who plays hoops as a secondary sport, who gave Bethel Park's shooters another chance.

“Levi made a big play for us and got the ball back,” Krafczynski said. “We knew we had to score there eventually, so we just tried to keep the ball moving, stay calm and make a shot.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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