Brian Papich knows some people -- and opponents -- are surprised when he throws down a dunk with ease in a game.
"They're surprised because I'm 6 feet and I'm white," Papich said with a laugh.
Papich threw down two dunks Wednesday night and jump-started Fox Chapel's playoff battery, scoring 23 points to lead the Foxes to a 51-43 victory against host Hempfield in a WPIAL Class AAAA first-round game.
Fox Chapel (17-6), which won a playoff game for the first time since 2007, needed Papich's charge because leading scorer Matt D'Amico (22 ppg) struggled and scored only eight points. Papich was 7 of 8 from the field and made 7 of 9 free throws.
"Everyone by now is catching on that Matt is a pretty good scorer, so they're going to put the focus on him," Papich said. "I have struggled with confidence somewhat this year. But coming into this game, it was kind of just like I have to forget about everything and just play the game."
Papich scored 13 points in the first half to help Fox Chapel take a 28-22 lead into the break.
"That's why it's kind of nice to have two guys [like D'Amico and Papich] who can kind of carry the load for you," Fox Chapel coach Zach Skrinjar said. "Billy Urso can kind of do it, too. But we pounded it in Papich's head all week, 'You can be the difference. Be aggressive. Be aggressive. Shoot the ball.' When he plays like that, we're a much better team."
Fox Chapel was an efficient team against Hempfield (17-6), which tied for the Section 1 championship in the regular season. The Foxes took only 29 shots, but made 16 (55 percent) and made 4 of 7 (57 percent) from 3-point range.
Hempfield got 17 points from sophomore guard Kasen Harrell, but he had only five in the second half. Harrell made only 2 of 10 shots in the second half. Hempfield played without 6-7 center Tony Pilato, who was injured, and starting guard Tyler Handlan, who was sick.
It was the eighth-consecutive first-round loss for Hempfield, which fell behind by 11 points late in the third quarter.