Some call it “March Madness.” Others use catch phrases such as “survive and advance.”
For the Penn Hills and Fox Chapel boys basketball teams, it’s simply Section 3-6A basketball.
With the score tied at 52 and 8.4 seconds remaining in regulation, Penn Hills senior Keyshawn Adams cut to the hoop and took a pass from senior Daivon Stephens. Adams’ last-second shot hit the top of the glass and dropped through the net as time expired to deliver a buzzer-beating 54-52 win over Fox Chapel in the first round of the PIAA tournament Saturday afternoon at North Hills.
The WPIAL Class 6A champion Indians weren’t given any favors by drawing the Foxes in the first round of the PIAA bracket. Some coaches might call a matchup against a “trap game.”
Fox Chapel set the trap, but Penn Hills didn’t take the bait.
“The plan was to get Daivon (Stephens) the ball,” Adams said of the final play. “(Stephens) was double-teamed, so I cut (to the basket) to get the ball, and I made the layup. I was also trying to get a call to get on the free-throw line.”
Penn Hills (24-3) moves on to play City League champion Allderdice (25-2) on Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.
“You come off the excitement of a championship and you play a team that’s really familiar with you, and you know that they’re ready,” Penn Hills coach Dan DeRose said. “Somehow, you have to match their emotion and intensity because they feel confident having beaten us one time during the season.”
Fox Chapel (17-7) didn’t flinch. The Foxes led throughout the first half and took a 31-25 halftime lead.
“I think we passed the ball and moved it very well (in the first half),” Fox Chapel coach Zach Skrinjar said.
Penn Hills responded in the second half, as Stephens scored nine of his team-high 17 points in the third quarter. Stephens was fouled on a putback and competed the three-point play to cut Fox Chapel’s lead to 31-28. Stephens added a jumper with 4 minutes, 42 seconds left in the third to bring the Foxes’ lead to 31-30.
But like the first half, every time it looked like Penn Hills was going to put together a run, Fox Chapel made a 3-pointer to swing momentum.
Dom McGriff made a 3-pointer to give the Foxes some breathing room at 34-30. Stephens tied the game at 34 on back-to-back baskets, and senior Cam Wiley made a 3-pointer to give the Indians its first lead at 37-34 with 1:18 remaining in the third. McGriff finished with 15 points.
Penn Hills held Fox Chapel to five points in the third quarter and took a 39-36 lead going into the fourth quarter.
“The flow (of the game) was a problem becasue we had some foul trouble with Ben (Kelly) having to sub in and out,” Skrinjar said.
Penn Hills senior Cory Fulton scored on back-to-back layups to start the fourth quarter to extend the Indians lead to 43-36. Fulton finished with 16 points.
Fox Chapel junior Ben Kelly made a 3-pointer to get the Foxes within 45-41 with 4:51 remaining. Another Kelly 3-pointer tied the game at 51 with 45 seconds left. Kelly finished with 11 points, and teammate Carson Cohen scored 17.
“That’s two teams trying to win a basketball game, and obviously, it meant a lot to both of us,” Skrinjar said.