Fox Chapel gets a win over Hampton before three-week shutdown

Friday, December 11, 2020 | 7:54 PM

Before his team met Hampton on Friday for its only game in the next three weeks, Fox Chapel boys basketball coach Zach Skrinjar wrote a message on the whiteboard.

It was a simple question mark. Big and bold.

“We always have a last word before the game, and our last word was just a question mark,” Skrinjar said. “Like who knows what’s next? Who knows when we are going to be here again? We asked them if they wanted to sit on a loss for three weeks. I know I don’t. We just kind of came out and did what we had to do.”

On Friday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf paused all high school sports until Jan. 4. But Wolf’s new restrictions didn’t go into effect until Saturday morning, so teams from around the area were able to get one last game in before the three-week layoff.

Just like Skirnjar, Hampton coach Joe Lafko and his players were just happy to get on the court.

“We’re very grateful and blessed to be playing basketball and having this opportunity to play,” Lafko said. “We’ve been blessed to practice as much as we have until this point, so we’re very very happy about that.”

Behind 21 points from junior Eli Yofan and 20 from senior Kent Baldauf, who hit five 3-pointers, the Foxes came away with a 57-45 victory over Hampton in an atmosphere Skrinjar described as part scrimmage, part playoff game.

The Foxes scored 15 points in the first quarter and added 20 in the second to go into halftime with a 17-point lead.

“I feel like we could’ve played better defensively, and, obviously, we shot the ball pretty well with Kent hitting five 3s,” Yofan said. “So that was good. I felt like we played pretty well, but at times it was a little sloppy”

The Foxes started the third quarter with a 9-0 run as the Talbots didn’t score until there were 2 minutes, 38 seconds left in the quarter.

“We just wanted to come out and get some good possessions, and it ended up benefitting us,” Skrinjar said. “In the second part of the third quarter, I don’t think we played very well at all, so it was nice to come out and get that run.”

The Talbots, who were led by sophomore guard Brennan Murray with eight points, worked their way back into the game toward the end of the third quarter.

They scored a game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter and held the Foxes to nine.

“I told the kids in the locker room afterward that I was really happy about the way they finished,” Lafko said. “They didn’t quit, and we had some guys that were eager to get some minutes on the varsity level.”

The Talbots had eight players score, and the Foxes had six. Now, with the governor’s restrictions in place, players will have to find their own way to work on their games and stay in shape for the next three weeks. But they were happy to just get on the court.

“It was great because if we wouldn’t have gotten to play today, it would’ve been really disappointing,” Yofan said. “We’ve been at it for probably like a month, so it was just great to get out here and play a different team.”

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

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