Fox Chapel uses early run to knock off North Allegheny in Class 6A quarters

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Friday, March 5, 2021 | 8:50 PM


The Fox Chapel boys basketball team couldn’t have drawn it up any better.

Behind 22 points from junior guard Eli Yofan, all five Fox Chapel starters scored in double digits, and the No. 2 Foxes (20-2) took advantage of an early first-quarter run to knock off No. 7 North Allegheny, 74-56, on Friday and move on to the WPIAL Class 6A semifinals.

“We were hoping that they would come out and do what they did, and it really worked to our benefit,” Fox Chapel coach Zach Skrinjar said. “It gave us easy looks on the offensive end, and a lot of easy layups kind of got us going. Then, we found gaps later, and wide-open shooters knocked down shots.”

Kent Baldauf hit four of Fox Chapel’s seven 3-pointers and scored 14 points. JP Dockey and Russ Fenton scored 13 points each, and Jake DeMotte added 10 with two 3-pointers.

Khalil Dinkins led North Allegheny (16-7) with 18 points and nine rebounds. Greg Habib scored 12 and Matt McDonough added 13.

The Foxes will play No. 6 Pine-Richland on Tuesday at Fox Chapel.

North Allegheny took an early 6-2 lead behind a buckets from Dinkins and Habib as they showcased their intent to take advantage of their size.

But the Foxes started to settle in after a few possessions, and Fenton’s first layup, which made it 6-4, started a 20-2 run that stretched from the first to the second quarter and allowed Fox Chapel to take a 22-8 lead.

“It was our defense,” said Yofan, who scored his 1,000th career point Friday. “We had let the ball get into Khalil (Dinkins) two or three straight times early, and he’s gonna score that most of the time because we’re undersized. So we didn’t let it into the post. We got a few steals and got out running and made some shots.”

Along with creating havoc on the defensive end, Fox Chapel broke down North Allegheny’s press for easy buckets. The Foxes slowly worked the ball up court before finding a wide-open player for a layup.

North Allegheny coach Dan DeRose said he would’ve liked his team to be a more physical with their press and in getting the ball to Dinkins down low, but foul trouble prevented it.

“When Dinkins and Habib got into foul trouble, and now it stopped us from pounding it inside and it changed the game because we knew we had the size advantage,” DeRose said. “Our goal was to take advantage of it, and that really kind of changed how we were going to play. It kinda hurt because even though we did press, I wanted to be more full-court and I couldn’t do that when we got into foul trouble.”

The Tigers got as close as six points in the second quarter, but the Foxes took a 12-point lead into halftime after Yofan and Fenton hit back-to-back baskets to end the half.

Despite North Allegheny’s size, Fox Chapel played well under the hoop and Skrinjar was quick to recognize the play of Fenton, who at times guarded Dinkins.

“He’s been challenged all year, and this might’ve been his biggest challenge on the physical end,” Skrinjar said of Fenton. “I told him, ‘You’re not going to win every one, but if you win enough individual battles, we’re gonna win the game’ and I thought he did just that.”

The Foxes are in the semifinals for the first time since the 201415 season and, after a win against North Allegheny, they will do so with confidence.

“This was a huge win. That’s a good basketball team,” Yofan said. “They have good players. They are very disciplined. So, yeah, it was a big confidence booster.”

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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