Yofan scores 34 to lead Fox Chapel boys basketball past Hempfield

Friday, January 8, 2021 | 10:16 PM

It didn’t look like Fox Chapel senior Eli Yofan sat around doing nothing the past month.

Yofan was in top form Friday at Hempfield, scoring a personal-best 34 points and pulling in 15 rebounds to lead Fox Chapel to an 87-65 victory in the Section 3-6A opener.

The season was put on pause Dec. 13 when Gov. Tom Wolf shut down all high school sports because of covid-19 concerns. Teams were able to return to practice Monday.

Fox Chapel (2-0, 1-0) used an 18-2 run in the second quarter to break open a close game and take a 48-31 lead at halftime.

Yofan scored 21 points in the opening half, and the Fox Chapel defense forced five turnovers and owned the boards. Hempfield got few second-chance points in the second quarter.

“Hempfield hit some good shots, and I thought our defense was decent,” Fox Chapel coach Zach Skrinjar said. “I thought we did a really good job moving the basketball in the second quarter, and it was the turning point in the game. We worked on our defense from their, and then our offense got going.”

Junior J.P. Dockey had a career-high 20 points for the Foxes, who defeated Hampton before the shutdown. This was Hempfield’s first game.

The Spartans played without senior Christian Zilli because of coronavirus protocols. He is scheduled to return next week.

The Spartans were led by Joe Fiedor, who scored 15 of his team-high 19 points in the second half. Mike Hosni chipped in with 18 points, and Nihiem Lewis added 15.

Yofan said he was able to find an available gym where he could keep his shot in tune.

“I had a lot of free time,” Yofan said. “I probably shot 100 balls a day. It was awesome to get back out here. It was depressing when we were shutdown. It was a good start for us and a good win. We’re working in four new starters.”

Jake Demotte had 12 points for the Foxes.

“A lot of times when we play them, the same thing happens,” Hempfield coach Bill Swan said. “They are so well coached and so disciplined. We were down 30-27, and it got away from us.

“I thought we played a great second half offensively. We almost scored 70, but, obviously, we have to clean up our defense and clean up our boxing out.”

Hempfield stayed close to Fox Chapel early on. A 3-pointer by Hosni gave the Spartans a 7-6 lead.

But a bucket by Yofan ignited a 7-0 run to give Fox Chapel a 13-7 lead. The Foxes led 19-12 after a quarter and stretched the lead to 23-14 before the Spartans used a 13-7 advantage to close to within 30-27.

Fiedor’s two baskets and a 3-pointer by Sean Gordon highlighted the run.

That’s when Fox Chapel turned it to another gear.

“Eli gave us fits,” Swan said. “He played great. I haven’t seen the kid from Central (Catholic) yet, but Eli has to be one of the best players in the section.”

Skrinjar said Yofan is a special player.

“He’s as unselfish as anyone else,” Skrinjar said. “Guys look to get him the ball, and we did a good job establishing him early.”

His team’s offensive output also surprised Skrinjar.

“I don’t know when the last time we’ve done that,” he said. “But what we’re seeing, it’s different basketball. We usually don’t give up that many points. We have to coach differently, and the players have to play differently. It’s going to be an adjustment period.”

Swan said the positive thing he will take from the game was the play of Fiedor, Lewis, Hosni and others, who fought hard in the second half.

Fox Chapel returns to Westmoreland County on Tuesday to face Penn-Trafford. Hempfield will host Greensburg Central Catholic.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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