A-K Valley notebook: Fox Chapel boys flash early potential

Sunday, December 9, 2018 | 8:18 PM

Zach Skrinjar said Saturday night he pays more attention to the numbers directly after a team’s name than the ones directly in front.

By that criteria and more, the Fox Chapel boys basketball coach came away pretty pleased with his team’s showing at the season-opening Plum tournament.

Fox Chapel upended Class 6A No. 1 Pine-Richland, 68-59, on Saturday, pulling off what might stand as the biggest upset of the opening weekend of the WPIAL basketball season.

“It was a fun game,” Skrinjar said afterward. “Very few times do you get a chance to play against that high (caliber). It was a great game. It was not a playoff atmosphere, but it was a playoff team and it was a battle on both ends. I think both teams got better by playing.”

Pine-Richland eliminated Fox Chapel from the WPIAL playoffs last season, but Skrinjar said he considered that well in the past, too.

Ryan Kerr led Fox Chapel (2-0) with 26 points, Arnold Vento added 18 and Sam Brown had 13.

The Foxes, who beat Plum, 46-40, on Friday night, lost their top three scorers from last season’s PIAA playoff qualifier to graduation (guard Carson Cohen and forward Dom McGriff) or transfer (guard Ben Kelly). But when they needed a big stop or a key basket, they didn’t shrink from the challenge.

“I think it all goes back to our defense,” Skrinjar said. “The DNA of our program that we’ve built is just working on defending, sharing the basketball. We’ve kind of built the mentality in the program that it’s next man up. Regardless of who leaves, we have the high expectation of whoever’s here to do our defensive principles and find ways to win games.”

Keeping it 100

Klay Fitzroy and Max Matolscy still have two more years of high school football, but the pair already are drawing recruiting attention.

Fitzroy, a sophomore at Apollo-Ridge, and Matolscy, a sophomore at Plum, recently made PennLive’s rankings of the top 100 college prospects in the state.

PennLive ranked Matolscy 37th and Fitzroy 96th.

Matolscy, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound receiver/defensive back, caught 33 passes for 533 yards and four touchdowns. He led Plum with 66 tackles on defense, plus 2.5 sacks and three interceptions.

Fitzroy, a 6-foot-3, 185-pounder, played quarterback, receiver and defensive back for Apollo-Ridge. He passed for 662 yards and five touchdowns, caught 17 passes for 228 yards and five scores and had 41 tackles and two interceptions on defense. His older brother, Kyle, plays football for Mercyhurst.

Flip pride

St. Joseph senior Abbie Pierson, a New Kensington resident, signed last month with West Virginia’s gymnastics program.

A level 10 gymnast from Gymkhana Inc., Pierson qualified three times for the Junior Olympics National Championships and recorded five top-five finishes there. She took third in vault and eighth in all-around this year.

Pierson also won the vault championship and finished second in floor and all-around at the Region 7 Championships this year, and she also won the vault, floor and all-around at the Pennsylvania State Championships.

She recently competed with a Region 7 All-Star team in Hungary.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Doug at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Doug at 412-388-5830, dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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