Central Catholic races past Fox Chapel
OAKLAND: Fox Chapel’s boys basketball team hasn’t experienced many memorable moments at Central Catholic’s Alumni Hall.
“We’ve won very few times here over the years,” Fox Chapel coach Harry Jenkins said.
With a WPIAL playoff berth on the line Tuesday night, Central Catholic took advantage of its home court advantage against the Foxes.
Backed by a loud home crowd, the Vikings raced to a 15-0 lead to start the game and rolled to a 67-41 victory, locking up third place in Section 4-AAAA.
Fox Chapel, which could have earned a spot in the playoffs for the second year in a row by beating Central, finished 6-6 in the section and dropped to 12-10 overall.
“(The Vikings) are playing very well at this point in the season, and this is the time to do it,” Jenkins said. “We aren’t playing as well as we should.”
The Foxes continued to struggle on offense. Fox Chapel managed to score only 28 points in a loss to Plum in its previous game and didn’t score against Central until Jason Goeller’s layup with 2:20 left in the first period.
“That was the best offensive rebounding I’ve seen by a team in our league in the first quarter this year,” Jenkins said. “They scored 11 points off offensive rebounds in the first half. A lot of the time they were scoring off second shots.”
The Foxes started 0-for-4 from the field and committed five turnovers to fall behind by 15-0 when Jimmy Hyland sank a 3-pointer with 2:40 left in the first quarter.
“We couldn’t get into an offensive flow. The last few games we’ve been struggling,” Jenkins said. “We haven’t been as good on the defensive end lately, either.”
Fox Chapel committed 18 turnovers.
“Every time we turned the ball over, they finished at the other end,” Jenkins said. “And when we were pressing them, they didn’t turn the ball over as much. When we beat them at our place the first time we played, we did create some turnovers.”
The Foxes managed to cut Central’s lead to five points in the third period, but the Vikings pulled away down the stretch behind a balanced scoring attack that saw four players reach double figures.
Demarcus Simmons led Central (7-4, 13-8) with 15 points and made a pair of 3-pointers in the second half that helped deflate the Foxes’ comeback attempt. The Vikings also got 11 points from Hyland and 10 apiece from Daniel Waajid and Ross Watson.
Bryan Teschke led Fox Chapel with 15 points, including 10 in the second half. Pat Brannigan, who averages better than 14 points per game, was held scoreless until the fourth quarter and finished with four points.
Fox Chapel was missing senior guard Brian Urso, sidelined for the second game in a row with a concussion sustained when he hit his head on the floor during a game against Gateway last week.
“That took another ballhandler and 12 points out of our lineup,” Jenkins said.
Central and Fox Chapel played for the section title in last season’s final section game. The Foxes won that game at home and shared the Section 4-AAAA crown with the Vikings.
“I think they were looking for a little payback,” Jenkins said. “And they did that this evening.”