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Basketball

Fox Chapel's D'Amico shines late in win over Gateway

| Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, 10:00 p.m.

Matt D'Amico was feeling it — and not necessarily in a good way during the first half of the Fox Chapel boys basketball team's Section 2-AAAA game Friday at Gateway.

“I was tense in the first half,” D'Amico said. “Big game. I let my nerves get the best of me. I needed to relax.”

D'Amico, who had six points in the first half, relaxed and finished the game hot, scoring 12 consecutive points and 27 total to carry the Foxes to 63-59 win and salvage a split of the season series.

Gateway won in overtime 58-56 in the first meeting Jan. 8.

“I came up to him at halftime and told him to calm down and shoot the ball, that they would go in,” Fox Chapel coach Zach Skrinjar said. “It's amazing what watching the ball go through the hoop will do for your confidence.”

D'Amico was helped by 21 points from Brian Papich. Billy Urso had five points and converted a pair of clutch free throws with 9 seconds left to seal the win for Fox Chapel, which improved to 15-4, 8-4 in section play.

The Foxes, who are tied with Gateway for second in the section behind first-place Plum, have won five of six while trying to prep for the playoffs.

“We've been playing playoff basketball for a while,” Skrinjar said. “We just need to keep it going. Got another big game Tuesday against Plum.”

Gateway, which was missing point guard Shomari Thomas because of a concussion, got 17 points apiece from Daylon Harris and Delvon Randall but still lost for the fourth time in five games.

“You never want to go into a street fight with your hands tied,” Gateway coach Mitch Adams said of missing one of his best players. “But give them credit. They came out here and played well.”

Gateway forced a 42-42 tie at the end of the third quarter on a quick steal and score for Aiden Howard.

Gateway had a 52-49 lead with about three minutes to go when D'Amico started his hot streak with back-to-back 3-pointers within a 39-second stretch.

He followed that with consecutive layups to make it 59-54 with 36 seconds left and countered a Howard 3-pointer with a pair of free throws.

“I know I'm not supposed to watch,” Papich said. “But when he gets going, you just can't help it. It's impressive.”

Gateway closed the first quarter with an 8-2 run, getting five of those points from Randall, and had a 17-11 lead entering the second quarter.

Michigan State football recruit Montae Nicholson, who had two Spartans coaches in the stands watching him, nearly had a one-handed putback dunk midway through the period. His attempt, however, rimmed out. Nicholson finished with eight points and five steals.

The Foxes outscored Gateway, 19-8, in the second quarter and led 30-25 at halftime.

Fox Chapel converted eight 3-pointers compared to only two for Gateway.

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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