Ben O'Connor coaches Bethel Park's boys basketball team, but is a guidance counselor at Fox Chapel and had to play Fox Chapel.
Zach Skrinjar coaches Fox Chapel, but teaches at North Hills and had to play Bethel Park at North Hills.
Then this geography Twister of a WPIAL playoff game came down to Josh Krafczynski standing in a location where he virtually lives -- behind the 3-point line.
New Castle 85, Latrobe 66
New Castle takes on Latrobe in WPIAL Playoff basketball action. (Video by Justin K. Aller; 02/15/2014)
Thomas Jefferson 50, Ambridge 36
Thomas Jefferson takes on Ambridge in WPIAL Playoff basketball action. (Video by Justin K. Aller; 02/15/2014)
Krafczynski let loose with a 3-pointer, and it swished to give ninth-seeded Bethel Park a two-point lead with 33 seconds left. It was Krafczynski's sixth 3-pointer, and Bethel Park went on to beat eighth-seeded Fox Chapel, 49-45, in a WPIAL Class AAAA first-round game.
The Foxes (17-6), sluggish offensively much of the game, rallied from a seven-point deficit after the third quarter and took a 44-42 lead with 2:13 left on a blocked shot and dunk at the other end by Brian Papich. After Krafczynski missed a 3-pointer, Fox Chapel's Matt D'Amico made one free throw with 1:53 left to put the Foxes ahead, 45-42.
Then, seemingly in a blur, things changed as Krafczynski and a football quarterback with the blue jean first name sent a talented Fox Chapel team home for the season. With 1:07 left, Bethel Park's Levi Metheny, the quarterback and son of football coach Jeff Metheny, grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to bring the Blackhawks within 45-44. Then, 27 seconds later, with D'Amico dribbling near half court, Metheny reached in, poked the ball away and came up with a steal.
Last shot time? Nah. Bethel Park pushed, and, just seven seconds after Metheny's swipe, Krafczynski was attempting his 14th shot. Every one was a 3-pointer, and it was sweet.
"Coach says if you're open to shoot it, so I did," Krafczynski said. "We're all shooters and can make shots."
After Krafczynski's 3-pointer, D'Amico missed a 3-pointer, Bethel Park's Joe Mascaro was fouled, and his two free throws sealed the win.
Krafczynski finished with 20 points, and Mascaro added 11. Bethel Park's defense was excellent, holding Fox Chapel (17-6) to its lowest offensive output this season. D'Amico, a 6-foot-2 guard, is Fox Chapel's all-time leading scorer, and fellow guard Brian Papich also has more than 1,000 points. Junior guard Billy Urso also is a scoring threat. But D'Amico had only 11 points, 11 below his average.
Papich scored 16 but was scoreless in the first half. Urso was 2 of 9 from the field and scored four. Bethel Park's defense left other players alone, and the Black Hawks usually double-teamed D'Amico, Papich and Urso on drives.
"In the end, we made a few layups, made some foul shots, rebounded the ball and defended," O'Connor said. "We didn't do anything different than other teams did, but we just made one more play than them."
Skrinjar thought D'Amico was fouled when Metheny poked the ball away in the final minute. He stood outside a solemn locker room after the game.
"There are many great parts to coaching," Skrinjar said. "But that's probably the hardest to deal with, to know the end is there and their high school basketball careers are unfortunately over."
Mike White: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.