No. 3 Fox Chapel holds off No. 4 Hempfield to gain the top spot in Section 3-6A

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Tuesday, February 2, 2021 | 9:43 PM


When No. 3 Fox Chapel and No. 4 Hempfield met earlier this season, the Foxes used a run late in the game to cruise to a big victory.

On Tuesday, when the teams met again in Section 3-6A, Fox Chapel junior guard Eli Yofan took control late in the game for the second time this season and led the Foxes (8-2, 4-1) over Hempfield, 49-48.

After scoring 34 points in the first matchup, Yofan scored 31 on Tuesday, including 16 in the second half to seal the win.

“It was a huge win because they were in first in our section and were like a half a game ahead,” Yofan said. “So now I think we are number one in our section, so it was just a huge win.”

The game was close throughout, and Yofan scored Fox Chapel’s first nine points of the game but it could have been more.

The Foxes created turnovers on Hempfield’s first seven possessions but couldn’t convert them to layups on the other end. While his team held a 9-8 lead, Fox Chapel coach Zach Skrinjar knew it could’ve been bigger.

“It was frustrating that we were doing great things on the defensive end and then couldn’t finish on the offensive end,” Skrinjar said. “We just looked tired, and I don’t know what else to say other than that. There was no flow, and anytime we had a chance we just couldn’t get a bucket to fall.”

The teams traded baskets throughout the first half, and neither built a substantial lead.

With less than a minute left in the half, Hempfield senior guard Michael Hosni held the ball before beating his defender off the dribble for a layup at the buzzer to tie the score at 20-20.

“These guys are always ready for us, and they do a great job of preparing and we know it’s going to be a slugfest every time,” Skrinjar said. “So we kind of try to get our guys in that mindset that it’s going to be a battle.”

In the third quarter, the Spartans (5-3, 4-2) started to build one of the bigger leads of the game. Niheim Lewis scored seven of his 12 points in the quarter and a layup, then a 3-pointer by the 6-foot-3 senior guard midway through the quarter put the Spartans up 34-30.

“We were just running our offense. We didn’t do that early when we turned the ball over seven times,” Hempfield coach Bill Swan said. “We just got a little antsy early and started turning it over. So that just shows what you can do when you stick to your offense.”

The Foxes cut Hempfield’s lead to 34-33 before the end of the quarter.

With three minutes left in the fourth, senior Christian Zilli, who didn’t play in the first matchup, hit a 3 to put the Spartans up 43-41. But the Foxes responded with 6-0 run.

Yofan hit a layup to put his team up 47-43 with 46.9 seconds left, and Hosni answered with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 47-46.

Yofan rebounded a missed Jake DeMotte free throw moments later to give Fox Chapel a 49-46 lead.

“I was getting a sense throughout the game that they were having trouble guarding me one-on-one,” Yofan said about taking over late in the game. “They weren’t helping at all on the corners or the shooters, so if I just beat my man with like one move, they weren’t going to help and I was going to have a wind open layup.”

The Spartans almost came back in the waning moments as Dom Hipps was sent to the free-throw line in the final seconds. He made the first and purposely missed the second, and the Spartans got the ball back.

Hipps ended up with the ball underneath the hoop and was fouled at the buzzer. He missed the first free throw and made the second, and the Foxes walked away with the victory.

“That was the biggest sigh of relief that we’ve had this year,” Yofan said.

Check out the Trib HSSN Game of the Week video stream archive broadcast on Trib HSSN.

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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