Fox Chapel boys reflect on narrow losses
Legendary Steelers coach Chuck Noll once said that coming close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
The Fox Chapel boys basketball team can relate to that. The Foxes were on the short end of multiple cliffhangers this season and missed the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs.
The Foxes finished with a 7-7 record in Section 2-AAAA and were 11-11 overall.
“I felt like this season we were always a few plays away,” FC coach Zach Skrinjar said. “Players didn't fully commit to make plays when we needed them, and we created too many self-inflicted wounds in the form of turnovers, missed defensive assignments, foul trouble or poor shooting nights when we could least afford them.
“These things and others led to missed opportunities early in the season and, eventually, us missing the playoffs by a game. I did like the way we finished the second half of the section. As a group, we committed more to a team concept, and the players accepted coaching better. I'm hopeful this will carry on into the offseason and next year.”
The Foxes will lose leading scorer Mike Zappala (14 ppg), Brendan Urso, Tommy Smith and Mike Marsico to graduation but will be bolstered by the return of Jake Livingston (13 ppg), Dimitri Spina, Carson Cohen, Michael Snowball and Ben Kelly.
“After having end-of-season meetings with the players returning, we had some honest feedback, and the players seemed to be committed to improving both individually and as a team,” Skrinjar said. “Talking about it is one thing, though. As coaches, we're looking forward to seeing the talking backed up by actions.”
Skrinjar pondered what might have been if the Foxes had converted a few narrow losses into wins, including losses to Franklin Regional (68-64), McKeesport (54-50), Plum (58-52), Woodland Hills (52-48), Gateway (61-54) and Penn Hills (60-55).
“The Quad-A field is wide open this year, and that is my only regret,” he said. “Had we gotten in, I really think we could have done some good things and made a run at it. Sometimes, it's just not meant to be.”
Marty Stewart is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-782-2123 or email@example.com.