It was a busy offseason for coach Zach Skrinjar and the Fox Chapel boys basketball team. Despite losing the top three scorers from last season and returning only two starters, Skrinjar isn’t lacking confidence.
The Foxes are coming off the heels of an appearance in the WPIAL and PIAA playoffs after finishing 17-7 overall and 11-3 in Section 3-6A. They fell to Pine-Richland in the WPIAL quarterfinals and Penn Hills in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.
Fox Chapel lost Carson Cohen, who averaged 18 points, and Dom McGriff, who averaged 17, to graduation. Ben Kelly averaged 17 points but decided to transfer to another school after last season.
“I’m very confident with the group we have,” Skrinjar said. “I think we are going to be able to spread the ball around, and we have some guys that will be able to do things off the dribble and have some range. We’ve gone through it enough, and we know what we have to get out of the other guys to fill those points up.”
Senior guard Noah Marks and junior guard Arnold Vento are two returning starters.
“He has a nose for the basketball,” Skrinjar said of Marks. “He is always around the basketball. He is a high-energy player, and he plays both ends of the floor offensively and defensively. He’s a very good leader for us, and he’s just a tough all-around kid. He’s a pleasure to coach, and he is a hard worker.”
Vento is described as a good shooter who is good off the dribble. He’s also long and athletic, according to Skrinjar.
What may help the starting unit mesh together is the return of junior guard Sam Brown and senior guard Ryan Kerr. Both were projected as starters last season but were lost to injury. Both will step into the starting unit this year.
Brown saw a lot of minutes as a freshman and, according to Skrinjar, is an excellent passer who can finish around the hoop. Kerr is a good 3-point shooter and rebounder.
“I like the way the team is working together,” Skrinjar said. “I like the way they’re sharing the ball. It’s a very laid-back group, but a fun group, too. They’re all very close off the court. They’re all very coachable. They like to be coached. We coach them hard and coach them up. They’ve responded so far.”
The final starting spot has yet to be named. It could be a rotation of players.
Junior guards Will Livingston, Brevin Urso and William Generett, along with freshman guard Eli Yosan and sophomore guard Kent Bauldof are among the players who could step in.
“I think they all have a chance to contribute equally, depending on the effort and energy they put forth in practice and games,” Skrinjar said. “They will all get the chance to shine in their own way.”
Fox Chapel begins their season Dec. 12 at Plum in the Plum Tournament.
D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer.