Fox Chapel survives Eli Yofan injury scare to clinch sole possession of section title


Friday, February 11, 2022 | 10:18 p.m.

Fox Chapel’s Eli Yofan went from sore under the hoop in the third quarter to swinging off the rim in celebration in the fourth.

The senior star returned quickly from a leg injury in the third quarter, scored a team-high 21 points and helped No. 2 Fox Chapel clinch their third straight section title with a 75- 65 on No. 3 Central Catholic.

The Section 3-6A match drew a standing crowd at Central Catholic’s gymnasium.

Yofan’s final points were a breakaway dunk at the buzzer, but Fox Chapel fans were holding their breath a little earlier. He injured his right knee in a layup with about six minutes left in the third quarter, but missed just 88 seconds of actual playing time.

“It hurt a lot at the time, but at that moment I was like, ‘I can’t get out of this game,'” said Yofan, who scored 13 points in the second half. “There’s no way that’s stopping me.”

But Yofan was not a one-man offense. Jake DeMotte scored 18 points, JP Dickey added 12 and Colin Kwiatkowski had nine, including four crucial free throws in the final minute to keep the lead.

It’s the third straight section title for Fox Chapel (20-1, 10-0), and the win extended their winning streak to 19 games.

“It was important,” Fox Chapel coach Zack Skrinjar said. “It’s something we talked about. It’s another box ticked, and now we have other goals that we want to achieve.

The win puts Fox Chapel in the top seed position when WPIAL playoff brackets are revealed on Monday.

“I was only worried about his safety,” Skrinjar said of Yofan’s injury. “I have faith in our team with or without Eli. Obviously that’s a big part of that, but those guys always have that desire to win, and even more so if their best guy goes down.

Dante DePante scored a game-high 28 points for Central Catholic (16-5, 8-2), who were trying to win a share of a division title for the first time since the 2017-18 season.

Fox Chapel held an 11-point halftime lead, but Central Catholic didn’t leave. The Foxes lead was just 67-63 with a minute remaining after a layup from Central Catholic’s Langston Moses.

The Vikings then forced a quick turnaround but a Peyton Wehner jumper missed and Kwiatkowski grabbed a crucial rebound in the final minute. Kwiatkowski had two free throws with 50 seconds remaining and two more with 33 seconds left.

Fox Chapel led 71-63.

Kwiatkowski went 7 for 7 from the foul line.

Fox Chapel had attacked the rim in the first half, an aggressive approach that led to lay-ups, foul shots and a 43-32 halftime lead. The Foxes scored 20 points in the paint and Central Catholic was called for 12 fouls in the first half.

Fox Chapel led 20-13 after one quarter.

It was a very different game than where the teams first met on Jan. 18, and Fox Chapel beat Central Catholic, 54-37, with a stifling defensive effort. The Vikings scored just 16 combined points through the first three quarters of this game.

Fox Chapel’s only loss this season came on December 11 at North Hills, the No. 1 ranked team in the WPIAL 6A class. North Hills won 87-57.

Chris Harlan is an editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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