Fox Chapel Punches Ticket To The Pete
Tuesday night's contest between Fox Chapel and Pittsburgh Central Catholic was the third time that the two WPIAL power players faced off in the 2021-2022 season. After scoring convincing wins during the regular season on their way to a divisional title, the question was this: Could Fox Chapel win "The Big One" against Central to go 3 for 3--The WPIAL 6A Semifinal.
The sellout crowd in attendance at Peters Twp was treated to what should be remembered as one of the most high-intensity games Pittsburgh basketball has seen in years--A stalwart, punch-you-in-the-face, tie-your-opponents-shoes, knock down, drag out defensive battle. Both the Vikings and the Foxes made lockdown defense a priority and it resulted in an instant classic.
The game started out tentatively and Central held a slim 10-9 lead after one quarter after sophomore guard Payton Wehner hit an off balance "better lucky than good" three at the buzzer. The defensive slugfest continued in the second quarter and Central headed to the dressing room holding on to that one point advantage, 21-20.
Debaba Tshiebwe led the Vikings with 9, all scored in the second, in a row-- matched for Fox Chapel by Eli Yofan. The methodical pace and tough defense continued through the third and Central continued to held to their slim advantage, up 27-25.
The game featured physical play and the referees did an excellent job managing the contest and allowed the players to play hard nosed defense throughout--Allowing contact but also keeping the game under control at the same time--It made for a great battle, as evidenced below.
In the fourth quarter, the pressure got tighter, the possessions more valuable and the game remained tight until the final moments.
With 30 seconds to go, Foxes big man Colin Kwiatkowski stepped up to the line. He missed a FT and 6'2" sophomore Jeff Moorefield-Brown leaped over the 6'7" Tshiebwe for a rebound, dished back to Kwiatkowski, who scored, cutting the PCC lead to 32-31. The Foxes stole the inbounds pass and Yofan was fouled. He hit the first to tie, but missed the second--Moorefield-Brown got the board and putback to give the Foxes their first lead of the half at 34-32.
Central turned the ball over on the ensuing possession and after a timeout, a long inbounds pass found Yofan for the layup and free throw that sealed the game.
Yofan led all scorers with 18 points. Debaba led Central with 11 and 19 rebounds.
The Foxes improve to 23-1 on the season and will advance to the WPIAL 6A Title game on Saturday against undefeated North Hills--The only team to defeat Fox Chapel this year. The Foxes have not won a district championship in boys basketball in 45 years, with their last title coming in 1977. Central falls to 16-8 and will now await its opponent in the PIAA 6A State Tournament.