Alle-Kiski Valley boys basketball notebook: Fox Chapel looking to regain defensive form

Thursday, January 14, 2021 | 7:28 PM

For the past few years, the Fox Chapel boys basketball team has taken pride in its success on defense, but through three games this season, the Foxes haven’t quite lived up to their expectations.

After allowing only three teams to score more than 50 points last season and finishing with one of the stingiest scoring defenses in the WPIAL (43.1 ppg) last season, the Foxes have allowed three of their first four opponents to score 60 points.

Their last two games, against Chartiers Valley and Penn-Trafford, also resulted in losses of three points or fewer.

To improve his team’s defense, Fox Chapel coach Zach Skrinjar said his players just have to be willing to put in the effort to compete at both ends of the court.

“It’s just a matter of players putting in effort and coaches getting the effort out of them or making adjustments to other players,” Skrinjar said. “It kind of goes hand in hand, but kids don’t, our guys don’t just forget how to defend because it’s principles that we’ve instilled in them and unless it changes, we’re going to be treading water the entire season.”

Last season, the Foxes didn’t allow a team to score more than 50 points for the first nine games. They even held two teams to below 40 points at the Shady Side Academy Christmas tournament.

Hempfield, Penn-Trafford and Upper St. Clair were the only teams to score 50 points or more on them, so Skrinjar knows his players are capable of better.

“It’s stuff that they’ve done, and they know there is an expectation,” Skrinjar said.

Getting win No. 1

When Knoch returned from Gov. Tom Wolf’s three-week pause for high school athletics, the Knights traveled to Keystone Oaks for their second game of the season. First-year coach Alan Bauman got the first win of his high school coaching career, 61-47.

“I thought it was great, and the kids were great, you know, coming up to me after the game and congratulating me,” Bauman said. “It’s something that you can say you don’t think about but you can go, ‘OK, it would be nice to just get that.’ The worst part was my wife was like, ‘Let’s go do something to celebrate,’ but nothing was open so we couldn’t even go out to celebrate.”

Bauman said during his time as an assistant coach at Sewickley Academy, they won many playoff games at the Keystone Oaks gym, so that made it a little extra special.

“To walk in that gym and relive some of those moments and then get my first win there, that was pretty cool,” Bauman said.

Battle of top-ranked teams

No. 2 Springdale got its first true test when No. 1 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart came to town Tuesday. The defending WPIAL Class 2A champions sent a message as Jake DiMichele scored 30 points in the Chargers’ 75-54 win.

After the team cruised through its schedule last season, coach Aaron Epps purposely put together a demanding nonsection schedule to go with their tough Section 1-2A schedule, which includes OLSH. So Tuesday was just the first of some trials and tribulations the Dynamos will go through this season.

Notching a triple-double

A night after losing to OLSH, Springdale’s Demitri Fritch took out his frustrations on St. Joseph, notching his first triple-double of the season with 16 points, 13 steals and 10 rebounds.

He had scored 15 points in Springdale’s opening win of the season and 20 points against OLSH. Fritch was one of the top scorers in the WPIAL last season, averaging 23 points.

Back on the hardwood

After a long layoff, Highlands, Freeport and Apollo-Ridge will return to the court for the first time this season Friday.

The Golden Rams will travel to Mars. Freeport will travel to North Catholic, and Apollo-Ridge will host East Allegheny. All three games are section matchups and will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Highlands home and away games (where permissible) can be found the next day on Highlands’s Youtube page, Highland High Sports. Home games will also be shown on Comcast Cable Channel 190 at 8 p.m. Tuesday games will be replayed Thursday and Friday games will be shown the following Wednesday.

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

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