Fox Chapel learns from loss to Upper St. Clair as postseason approaches

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Monday, February 10, 2020 | 7:38 PM


For a majority of this season, the Fox Chapel boys basketball team produced a spotless record.

The Foxes have defended with an intensity that has allowed them to produce the best scoring defense in the WPIAL at 43.5 points per game, which is just over two points lower than the next best team.

At times, the WPIAL Class 6A No. 3 Foxes have also had to rely on a core group of sophomores in Eli Yofan, JP Dockey and Lorenzo Jenkins when upperclassmen Arnold Vento and Sammy Brown were out with injuries or sickness. But the Foxes didn’t let that hinder their play.

“It’s just been a next-man-up mentality,” Yofan said. “We’ve played with a bunch of guys this season, and we can trust probably 10 guys to play for us on the floor. So that’s pretty much been it.”

Through their first 20 games, the Foxes produced an undefeated record and captured a Section 3-6A championship. But their regular season wasn’t over yet, and they still had two nonsection contests to get through in order to accomplish the first undefeated regular season in Fox Chapel history.

Last Friday, No. 2 Upper St. Clair ended the Foxes’ bid for a perfect season.

The Panthers put together a 25-6 run in the third quarter behind five 3-pointers and used a concentrated defensive effort to beat Fox Chapel at its own game.

“We all collectively made some mistakes, and I think we all probably would’ve liked some of those plays back,” Fox Chapel coach Zack Skrinjar said. “But we can’t get them back. So hopefully we can watch the film, learn from it and improve on it.”

USC became the first team all season long to score 60 or more points on the Foxes. Penn Trafford was the next-closest team with 57 points Jan. 31.

Despite the loss, the Foxes took the experience in stride and believe scheduling such a challenging nonsection game will only help them down the road.

“They were a very good opponent, and we knew that coming in, playing in a playoff-type atmosphere,” Skrinjar said. “But that’s why you want to play games like that to prepare for the playoffs coming up.”

Skrinjar said his team played a bad four-minute stretch between the third and fourth quarter, and the Panthers capitalized. The Foxes also committed 15 first-half turnovers, and the Panthers held leading scorers Yofan and Vento to just eight and six points respectively.

It was a tough pill to swallow, but just like any other loss, the Foxes took things away from it that they can use down the road.

“We definitely learned from it,” senior Will Livingston said. “It’s still not a good thing, though. It was good to have a playoff atmosphere and stuff like that, but you never want to lose.”

On Tuesday, the WPIAL will announce the first-round matchups at the annual pairings meeting in Green Tree. Given their success this season, the Foxes could garner a top seed, but come next week, none of that matters.

“As of Tuesday, everyone is undefeated. Everyone is 0-0,” Skrinjar said. “So, really, we are going against every other team with the same goal as them.”

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

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