A-K Valley boys basketball notebook: Highlands, Knoch, Fox Chapel plan to stay sharp during bye week

Thursday, February 13, 2020 | 7:31 PM

Earlier this week, Highlands, Knoch and Fox Chapel were named among the top two seeds in each of their brackets for the WPIAL basketball playoffs.

Highlands (19-3) and Knoch (19-3) were given the first and second seeds, respectively, in the Class 4A tournament and the Foxes (21-1) nabbed the No. 2 seed in the Class 6A bracket behind Butler. All three teams were happy with their spots in the bracket, which come with an opening-round bye.

Now, all three teams will wait for first-round matchups to be played Tuesday or Wednesday of next week to determine their opponents. Each team will bide their time by trying to stay sharp.  

“We’re gonna talk to some coaches to get some solid scrimmages that will make our guys compete,” Highlands coach Tyler Stoczynski said. “Hopefully we will get better from that and keep that rust off so we stay sharp for the stretch run.”

All three coaches said they would try to find the perfect balance between resting players and putting in the work to make sure their teams are ready. All three teams played 20-plus games this season, and they want to be fully rested come next Saturday when they take the court.

“I think it’s important to give our kids some rest and allow them to get their legs back,” Knoch coach Ron McNabb said. “But I think at this point in the game, they want to get out on the court and prepare. They are pretty hungry.”

All three teams will play next Saturday. Highlands will play the winner of No. 8 Ambridge (11-8) and No. 9 Ringgold (13-9). Knoch will play the winner of No. 7 New Castle (15-7) and No. 10 Mt. Pleasant (12-10). Fox Chapel will play the winner of No. 7 Central Catholic (12-10) and No. 10 Penn Trafford (14-8).

“I told our guys after we beat Plum, everyone is 0-0 now,” Fox Chapel coach Zach Skrinjar said. “Anyone is capable of winning. There are a lot of good teams in 6A, and I think we are one of them, and I think we deserve to be there. We are happy to be there and we’re excited to get the playoffs started.”

First time in a long time

Springdale won its first section championship since 1993 when the Dynamos turned in an overall record of 19-3 and captured a share of the Section 1-2A title with a 13-1 record.

“That was our first goal at the start of the season,” Springdale coach Aaron Epps said. “I kept telling them we gotta win the section so we can get better seeding, and the kids really bought into that. I kept preaching it. That was their goal all year. That was their first goal. Now, they want to go win the WPIALs.”

The Dynamos split the section championship with Sto-Rox after the teams split two meetings in the regular season. On Dec. 17, the Dynamos were led by a 42-point, 16-rebound, 11-assist performance from Demitri Fritch as they took-down Sto-Rox in an 86-85 overtime thriller.

The Vikings responded with a convincing 72-49 win in the second meeting.

First-round matchups

Three A-K Valley teams will play in the first round this weekend. In Class 3A, No. 16 Deer Lakes (12-9) will take on No. 1 Lincoln Park (18-4) at 8 p.m. Friday at Fox Chapel. No. 4 Springdale (19-3) will play No. 13 Sewickley Academy (7-12) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Shaler in a Class 2A contest. No. 8 Leechburg (15-5) will take on No. 9 Geibel Catholic (14-8) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Thomas Jefferson.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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