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Fox Chapel boys basketball team will rely on rotation for scoring

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Dan Speicher | For Trib Total Media
Fox Chapel Senior Billy Urso, practices Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, at Fox Chapel High School.

After losing two of the top outside shooters in school history, Fox Chapel will look to play more of an inside game this season.

Guards Matt D’Amico and Brian Papich, who combined for nearly 40 points per game, have graduated.

D’Amico led the Alle-Kiski Valley in scoring with 22.9 points per game, and Papich averaged 17 as the Foxes finished 9-5 in Section 2-AAAA, 17-6 overall.

The Foxes won six of their last seven regular-season games and three games during the holidays at the ESPN Wide World of Sports event near Orlando, Fla.

Sixth-year coach Zach Skinjar will employ a more balanced attack this season.

“Looking into making that up, we’ll approach it with four, five, six guys combining to fill the vacancy left by those two,” Skrinjar said. “That’s the most realistic way of approaching it.”

One key returning player is point guard Billy Urso, who lit up the skies over the Pittsburgh region during the football season with 1,432 passing yards. On the hardwood last year, Urso averaged double digits in scoring even while distributing the ball to D’Amico and Papich.

This year, Urso’s job will be working the ball inside to 6-foot-3 David Brown, a two-year starter.

“This is the tallest we’ve ever been since I came here,” Skrinjar said. “With our size, we’ll look inside a little more.”

Brown, however, was injured during the football season, and the timetable for his return is uncertain.

That’s means more playing time for others until Brown can get into basketball mode.

Skrinjar plans to employ a number of players, adjusting the lineup to suit the opposition in what promises to be another grueling section season.

“The lineups will vary according to the opponent,” Skrinjar said. “We’ll see who’s stepping up on the offensive and defensive ends.”

The section appears to be balanced again, with any number of teams competing for the four playoff slots. Fox Chapel will welcome Plum to its renovated gym Dec. 12 for the start of section play.

Once again, boys and girls doubleheaders will be a staple of Section 2.

Before the section grind begins, Fox Chapel will begin its season Dec. 5 at the North Hills Tip-off Tournament, facing perennial contender Hampton at 6:30 p.m.

Oddly enough, the North Hills gym is the place where last season ended with a 49-45 playoff loss to Bethel Park.

With key assistant Joe Farrell departing to become Riverview’s coach, Fox Chapel has dipped into its glorious past for a new assistant.

Stu Lyon, who spearheaded a drive to the WPIAL and PIAA state titles in 1977, returns to his alma mater.

Rounding out the staff will be Michael Michaux and Gabe Skrinjar, the coach’s brother.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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