Fox Chapel boys getting valuable contributions from role players during winning streak

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Saturday, February 13, 2021 | 9:01 AM


Heading into this season, Fox Chapel boys basketball coach Zach Skrinjar knew what he was going to have in junior Eli Yofan, but the rest of his starting lineup remained a mystery.

After going 21-2 last season, the Foxes had to replace four senior starters with players who had to step into much bigger roles than they played last season. It resulted in the Foxes going 2-2 through their first four games.

But that’s all changed as Fox Chapel has won its past nine games due to the contributions of the players that have surrounded Yofan this season.

“When we were going through our lull earlier in the season, they didn’t understand what it took yet to compete at this level,” Skrinjar said “I think once we started getting some confidence, once we started defining some roles more, we knew they had it in them. It was just a matter of putting it together. It’s been great to see two or three guys step up and contribute for us.”

Yofan is leading the team in almost every statistical category with 22.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.2 steals per game. Junior JP Dockey tops him in assists with 4.8 per game. Dockey, along with fellow starters Kent Baldauf, Jake DeMotte and Russ Fenton have all filled their own unique roles this season.

Dockey played significant minutes last year as a sophomore alongside Yofan and has continued his growth. He’s averaged 10.7 points and 5.5 rebounds, and in a 68-52 win over Norwin on Feb. 9, the lengthy guard scored a career-high 24 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 10 assists for a triple-double.

Baldauf has carved out his role as a perimeter threat and has kept teams honest with his shooting presence from the 3-point line. He’s averaging 9.3 points per game.

DeMotte and Fenton have also done it all for the Foxes. DeMotte scored a career-high 17 points against McKeesport, and Fenton has provided a solid presence in the paint.

“It’s just one of those things where (the coaching staff) saw glimpses of what they could do,” Skrinjar said. “It’s just the maturation of them as basketball players, filling into roles, and I felt like they just needed some time to come together. Once it came together … it’s really fun to watch.”

Since their 63-61 loss to Penn Trafford on Jan. 12, the Foxes have won nine straight and have averaged 60.6 points per game while only allowing 51.6 points per game. The Foxes have always been able to find a way to score this season, but in the stretch run, Skrinjar said it’s going to come down to their ability to stop teams at the end of the game.

“It’s gonna come down to the defensive end and we’ve done a better job of embracing that,” Skrinjar said. “But when we can share the ball and get double-digit scorers from a variety of different people, we’re a dangerous team to watch. So hopefully we are going to keep evolving and moving towards playing our best basketball at the end of the year.”

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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