Top three scorers lift Plum to section title

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In addition to his duties as boys basketball coach, Ron Richards is a history teacher at Plum High School.

Tuesday, his team went out and made some of their own.

Fueled by a huge effort from its top three scorers, Plum won an outright section title for the first time with a 71-67 victory at Fox Chapel.

Plum (17-2, 11-2) had clinched at least a share of the Class AAAA Section 2 title with a win Friday against Penn Hills, but this win enabled the Mustangs to do what its previous two section champions never did -- hold the title by themselves.

"It's a wonderful feeling," said Austin Dedert, a 6-foot-6 senior center. "We worked so hard for this. We talked about it a lot. It was always a big goal of ours. To finally achieve it is a great feeling for us."

Fox Chapel (15-5, 8-5) is battling Franklin Regional (9-4), Gateway (9-4) and Central Catholic (8-5) for the section's three remaining playoff spots. Fox Chapel visits Central Catholic in a section finale Friday, and a win by the Foxes would send them to the postseason.

Plum's win -- the ninth in its past 10 games against Fox Chapel -- was mostly due to the scoring from Dedert, senior guard-forward Nick Stotler and sophomore guard James Edwards. The trio combined for all but seven of Plum's points and all but one of the Mustangs' 22 field goals.

Edwards poured in a career-high 26 points, Stotler added 21 and Dedert 17.

"They're three good players," Richards said. "The thing about them is they're all a little bit different. Nick is kind of a slasher, strong kid who can play combo inside and out. Dedert is a true post in high school that not many teams have. And James is a very quick guard who can shoot it from the perimeter and has an incredible amount of upside. To beat Fox Chapel on the road, we knew we needed to have a big game from those three guys."

Plum, 10-0 on the road, took its biggest lead, 49-40, on Edwards' driving layup in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, but Fox Chapel kept chipping away.

Stotler made a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left to put Plum ahead, 70-67. Fox Chapel's Brian Papich then missed a jumper and David Brown misfired on a putback attempt. Dedert grabbed the rebound with three seconds left and made the back end of a one-and-one to seal the win. Plum was 9 of 12 from the line in the final minute.

Papich and Matt D'Amico were terrific for Fox Chapel. Papich scored 28 points and D'Amico 25. The two accounted for 26 of Fox Chapel's 27 fourth-quarter points.

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