St. Joseph's Prep has fine supporting cast

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER St. Joe's Prep's Tom Fox (left) beats Archbishop Ryan's Austin Slawter for a second-quarter rebound.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER St. Joe's Prep's Tom Fox (left) beats Archbishop Ryan's Austin Slawter for a second-quarter rebound.
Posted: January 21, 2014

CHRIS CLOVER is St. Joseph's Prep basketball. The 6-4 junior forward is the only player who can score. If you stop him, you stop the Hawks.

Not so fast!

"Yeah, we've been hearing that a lot," said SJP senior Tom Fox yesterday. "We've been hearing that he's the only one scoring, but we don't listen to it. Chris does a good job of finding us when he's double- and triple-teamed."

Clover headlined yesterday's 64-56 victory for the Prep (13-3, 5-2) over host Archbishop Ryan, but without Fox and Co. the Raiders might have taken tops on the marquee.

A secondary role is nothing to sneeze at for Fox. In fact, it's a role he's worked hard to attain.

Growing up, the wing/forward watched intently as older brothers Joey and Kevin both played basketball at the Prep. The family patriarch, Joe, has been an assistant at SJP since 2003 (business took him away for a few years, but he's been back the last 4).

"The neat thing about [Tom] is that he's been coming to our practices since he was 8 years old," dad said after the game. "He's been thinking about this for a while now."

After playing understudy to Steve Vasturia (Notre Dame) and Miles Overton (Wake Forest) the last two seasons, Fox finally realized he belonged when Prep coach William "Speedy" Morris named him a team captain this season.

"It feels great," Fox said. "It feels great knowing that I'm out here now and knowing that I can contribute not just in practice, but actually on the court now."

His 16 points (5-for-11, 5-for-10 from three) supplemented Clover's 25 (10 of 15, one three) and also provided separation in a momentum-seizing third quarter.

Fox hit two triples from the right wing in a 10-2 spurt that netted the Hawks a 42-32 lead with 1:40 left in the frame. After the Raiders (9-7, 1-6) scored five straight, trifecta No. 3 came from nearly same spot.

"I made the first two and I was thinking, 'OK, we might be a little hot here,' " said Fox, who added six assists. "When I make a couple in the same spot, it tends to be just a mindset that the next one is going in."

An equal-opportunity bomber, Fox started the fourth with a three from the left corner. Then, Clover euro-stepped his way for two more, but that would be his last field goal.

Early on, the Raiders employed a death-by-1,000-cuts offense. With some Princeton-offense principles, they attempted just 13 shots (made eight) in the first half and only trailed, 25-23. Sophomore guard Austin Slawter led the team with 19 points. Senior guards Brendan Horan and Nick Heuser added 13 and 11, respectively.

However, SJP's second-half defense forced the Raiders into a few harried one-on-one offerings.

Kyle Thompson, an SJP senior captain, added 12 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Clover, the third captain, added six boards, and Ricky Slusarczyk grabbed seven more along with three steals.

As for Fox, who lives in Lower Gwynedd, Saint Joseph's University could follow, along with a marketing major so he can join his brothers, who are in business with their father.

"He's been coaching me since like fourth grade," Fox said. "It's always been great having him around . . . he becomes coach when we get out on the floor, but after the game he's my dad again."

Tom's uncle, Bill Fox, coached at Father Judge for 29 years and amassed a 545-269 record. Postgame, pride was all over Joe Fox's face.

"Speedy has given [Tom] a nice opportunity now and it's nice to see him taking advantage of it," Joe Fox said. "One of those kids that paid his dues, worked real hard last summer, and it's paying off for him."

On Twitter: @AceCarterDN

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