Report on the Fox Chapel-Bethel Park game along with highlights from other WPIAL boys and girls playoff games today.
It was like a blur in the final minute and change. Just like that, in the span of 34 seconds, the Bethel Park-Fox Chapel game changed drastically and Bethel Park went on to a 49-45 victory today in a WPIAL Class AAAA first-round playoff game at North Hills.
Fox Chapel had come back from a seven-point deficit after three quarters and taken a 44-42 lead with 2:13 remaining on a blocked shot and dunk at the other end by Brian Papich. Matt D'Amico then made one free throw with 1:53 left to give the Foxes a 45-42 advantage.
Then it came apart for Fox Chapel. With 1:07 left, Bethel Park's Levi Metheny, the quarterback and son of football coach Jeff Metheny, grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to bring the Black Hawks within 45-44. Then 27 seconds later, with D'Amico dribbling near half court, Metheny made the defensive play of Bethel Park's season, reaching in, poking the ball away and coming up with a steal.
But last shot apparently never crossed Josh Krafczysnki's mind. Bethel Park hurried, Krafczynski nailed a 3-pointer with 33 seconds left, just seven seconds after Methen's steal. It was his 14th shot of the game. Every one of the 14 was a 3-pointer and this was his sixth make.
After Krafczynski's 3-pointer, D'Amico missed a 3-pointer, Bethel Park's Joe Mascaro was fouled, and he made two free throws to seal the win.
Krafczynski finished with 20 points and Mascaro added 11. Bethel Park's defense was excellent, holding Fox Chapel (17-6) to its lowest offensive output of the season. D'Amico, Fox Chapel's all-time leading scorer, was held to 11. Guard Brian Papich didn't score in the first half, but finished with 16. Junior guard Billy Urso also is a scoring threat. But D'Amico had only 11 points, 11 below his average, and attempted only nine shots.
Papich scored 16 but was scoreless in the first half. Urso was 2 of 9 from the field and scored four. Bethel Park's defense left other players alone and the Black Hawks usually double-teamed D'Amico, Papich and Urso when they tried to drive.
"We said all week that you don't have to make 15 3-pointers to win," said Bethel Park coach Ben O'Connor (pictured). "You just have to play hard, play well and play focused. It's as simple as that. It's always pretty, especially in the playoffs.
"The way to sum up the game is they made a run to go up three and our could've broke – and they didn't. The best thing I could say about our guys is they just kept playing."
Skrinjar thought D'Amico was fouled on Metheny's steal.
"It was pretty obvious to me that he got hit and got fouled, but that wasn't the way the official saw it," Skrinjar said. "It didn't come down to that play, anyway, I don't think."
It was a tough ending for Fox Chapel and especially the terrific careers of D'Amico and Papich.
"We never feel like we're out of the game with the guys we have," Skrinjar said. "It's been what we've done year, push in the fourth quarter. It's kind of what we expected. We just didn't get it finished today.
CLASS AAAA BOYS
*** New Castle 85, Latrobe 66: For one half, Latrobe stayed close with powerful New Castle. But New Castle came on strong in the second half for an 85-66 victory.
Top-seed New Castle pushed aside a shaky first half by using a strong third quarter to defeat No. 16 Latrobe in a WPIAL Class AAAA first-round game at North Allegheny.
It was New Castle's 43rd consecutive win against WPIAL competition and ninth straight WPIAL playoff win. Malik Hooker led New Castle (23-0) with 31 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Anthony Richards added 11 points and 9 assists. Latrobe (12-10) led New Castle, 20-18, after the first quarter and trailed the Red Hurricanes, 41-39, at the half.
But New Castle then pulled away by outscoring Latrobe, 27-12, in the third quarter to take a 68-51 lead. Matt Cullen scored 16 points and Sean Graytok 15 for Latrobe.
****Hampton 61, Peters Township 26: Ryan Luther scored 27 points as Hampton crushed Peters Township. The Talbots shot 46 percent from the field and outscored the Indians, 26-7, in the third quarter after leading, 26-11, at the half. Jake Brucker scored a team-high six points for the Indians.
****Franklin Regional 70, Seneca Valley 59: Matt Fisch scored 18 points and Matt Renzi added 15 to lead the No. 7 Panthers (16-6) to the win against the Raiders (12-11) at Plum. Zach Snyder scored 18 points for the Raiders, who made it to the semifinals last season.
CLASS AA BOYS
****Jeannette 61, Sto-Rox 34: Julian Batts scored 15 of his 25 points in the first half to vault the Jayhawks (13-9) past the Vikings (11-12) at North Hills. The Jayhawks shot 50 percent from the field and held the Vikings to 21 percent shooting.
****Chartiers-Houston 66, Charleroi 60: The Bucs (17-6) won a playoff game for the first time in school history by defeating the Cougars (13-8) at Chartiers Valley. Miles Williamson paced the Bucs with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
****Brownsville 42, Brentwood 40: Ryan Novotney's basket with eight seconds left gave the Falcons (14-7) their first playoff win since 2001 by edging the Spartans (12-9) at Peters Township.
****Frazier 46, South Allegheny 43: Charles Manack's 20 points pushed the Commodores (15-7) to the win against the Gladiators (14-9) at Baldwin. The Commodores trailed by four points at the half, but outscored the Gladiators, 19-10, in the third quarter.
****Apollo-Ridge 52, California 38: Duane Brown and Alex Smith scored 13 points apiece to help the Vikings (19-3) win their sixth game in a row by defeating the Trojans (10-13) at Elizabeth Forward. The Vikings outscored the Trojans, 28-6, in the third quarter.
****Shady Side Academy 74, Northgate 56: The Indians (14-9) earned their eighth win in a row with the triumph against the Flames (8-15) at Fox Chapel. Kyle Olander led the Indians with 27 points and Mike Ware had 22. Taymon Russell scored 26 for the Flames.
****Washington 68, Burrell 52: Nate Swart scored 22 points and Dupree Jenkins had 20 to propel the Little Prexies (17-6) to the victory against the Bucs (6-16) at Chartiers Valley.
****Laurel 46, West Shamokin 45: Jake Hough and Zac Horner each scored 15 points in helping the Spartans (13-10) slip past the Wolves (17-6) at North Allegheny. Scott Siddal had 16 points for the Wolves, who missed a potential winning shot at the buzzer.
CLASS AAA GIRLS
**** Ringgold 49, South Fayette 42: Marlena Schmidt scored 13 points and blocked eight shots to lead Ringgold at Chartiers Valley. Bailey Cooper added 11 points for the Rams, while Eleni Radic chipped in 10. Autumn Mozick led South Fayette (12-11) with 14 points, including three 3-point goals.
****West Mifflin 76, Freeport 48: Taylor Thomas scored 23 points and cleared 12 rebounds to lead the Titans (16-5) past the Yellowjackets (10-12) at Plum. Ciara Patterson also dished out 11 assists.
****Kittanning 54, Greensburg Salem 38: Tiffany Montgomery, Emily Klingensmith and Emily Knepshield each scored 11 points to lead the Wildcats (15-7) past the Golden Lions (9-14) at Plum. Greensburg Salem's Karly Mellinger led all scorers with 20 points.
****Moon 61, Uniontown 24: Amirah Moore scored 20 points as the Tigers (15-7) vanquished the Red Raiders (8-11) at Peters Township.
****Thomas Jefferson 50, Ambridge 36: Haley Kutscher scored 13 points while Alexis Yanief and Courtney Zoglmann added 12 apiece as the Jaguars (13-9) outscored the Bridgers (13-10).
CLASS A GIRLS
****Carmichaels 41, Monessen 37 (OT): Caroline Cree scored all four of her team's overtime points and 15 overall to lead the Mighty Mikes (8-14) past the Greyhounds (4-17) at Baldwin.
****North Catholic 51, Winchester Thurston 27: Paige Kizir scored 10 points to lead the No. 3 seed Trojanettes (16-7) past the No. 14 Bears (9-13) at North Hills.
****St. Joseph 61, Jefferson-Morgan 14: Mallory Heinle scored 23 points to lead the No. 4 Spartans (19-4) past the No. 13 Rockets (12-11) at Elizabeth Forward.
****Quigley 58, West Greene 17: Kaitlyn Smith scored 10 of her game-high 21 points in the second quarter as the No. 5 Spartans (17-5) shut out the No. 12 Pioneers (11-11) in the second quarter at Peters Township.
****California 38, Cornell 25: Jenna Miller scored 9 points, while Kylie Huffman added 8 points and blocked seven shots to lead the No. 6 Trojans (18-3) past the No. 11 Raiders (12-11) at Elizabeth Forward. California converted 10 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter.