One look at Fox Chapel’s basketball lineup won’t likely make much of an impression on the average fan. But, boy, do the Foxes know how to win.
“We don’t look spectacular. Everyone says that,” Fox Chapel boys coach Zach Skrinjar said following a 69-54 Section 3-6A victory on Friday night at Penn-Trafford.
“They say, ‘We don’t know how you guys keep winning,’ and I give the credit to the players. They follow what we tell them to do. We really coach them hard and have high expectations.”
It certainly showed in their latest game.
Four Fox Chapel players scored in double figures as the Foxes turned a close game into a rout in the second half.
Ryan Kerr and Arnold Vento scored 18 points apiece to lead Fox Chapel (8-4, 3-1). Sam Brown added 13 points and Noah Marks chipped in 10 for the Foxes, who won their fourth game in a row and fifth in the past six outings.
Luke Fabac led Penn-Trafford (7-5, 2-2) with 14 points. Brayden Puskar added 13 and Kevin Stinelli 11 for the Warriors.
Penn-Trafford hung around for much of the night, trailing by a handful of points throughout the first half. The Warriors were down 14-12 after the first quarter and 31-25 at halftime.
They still managed to trail by single digits (47-39) entering the fourth quarter before Fox Chapel poured it on, connecting on 9 of 10 free throws and outscoring Penn-Trafford, 22-15.
Fox Chapel didn’t take a double-digit lead until Kerr’s 3-pointer in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter gave the Foxes a 50-39 advantage. Their biggest margin was 19 when Marks hits two free throws to push the lead to 67-48 with 2 minutes, 50 seconds remaining.
“They’re one of the better teams in 6A,” Penn-Trafford coach Jim Rocco said. “They’re a very skilled, experienced basketball team. They do a great job of executing.”
Both teams entered the game with identical records, but it was clear from the start Fox Chapel had the upper hand.
“We’re trying to build a program here,” said Rocco, the former longtime successful Penn Hills coach. “It takes work. You have to have an established program that’s experienced, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. Our youth teams no longer are playing just in Westmoreland County. That part of it, you’ve just got to build it. It’s a culture that you have to develop.”
The Foxes didn’t hit their stride until later on in the third, when they began to pull away.
“Our defense is still our trademark,” Skrinjar said. “Even though we came down here and put up almost 70 points, we don’t do that very often. We take pride in trying to take away opponents’ strengths.”
The Fox Chapel defense was clicking when it counted late. The offense kept pace.
“I thought we did a good job of taking the right shots at the right time in the right area,” Skrinjar said.
He flashed a triumphant smile, then added: “If we don’t lull people to sleep, we’re not going to be successful.”
Dave Mackall is a freelance writer.