After strong start, Chartiers Valley boys eye continued improvement

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Sunday, January 22, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Prior to the start of the 2022-23 boys basketball season, fifth-year coach Brandon Sensor and his Chartiers Valley program set high expectations.

The team, according to Sensor, was farther ahead on offense and defense than they were at the end of an 8-15 season in 2021-22 that saw them make the playoffs after going 5-5 in Section 2-5A play before losing in the WPIAL first round to Penn Hills.

Fast forward to close to the conclusion of the first run through the section this season and the Colts are riding a bit high. Entering play the week of Jan. 15, Chartiers Valley sported a 12-2 overall record and a 2-2 mark in Section 4-5A, with wins over West Allegheny and South Fayette in the section and losses to Moon and Mars.

In fact, the Colts started 12-0 with wins over 6A opponents in Baldwin and Mt. Lebanon, 2A contender Aliquippa, 4A’s Hampton and Section 1-5A contender Peters Township included.

Since that start, Chartiers Valley has dropped back-to-back games going into a matchup with 2022 6A finalist North Hills, now in the Colts’ section.

“It was a good start. We played some pretty good basketball and did a lot of good things,” Sensor said. “The two losses aren’t the end of the world. We just have to keep continuing to improve and learn from mistakes. We just need to keep getting better.”

Sophomore Jayden Davis is averaging more than 20 points with senior Drew Sleva up over 10 points a game. After that it’s a bit of a mixed bag in the scoring department.

When you get a bunch of contributors, that’s a good sign for the offense, but Sensor attributed the energy the players have brought on defense to the team’s early success.

As of this writing, the Colts are top five in 5A in scoring defense at 49.1 per game, behind Franklin Regional (44.3), Penn Hills and Shaler (45.1) and Fox Chapel (47.6). They’ve got the best scoring defense in Section 4.

“Our guys got after it on loose balls, (they were) diving on the floor, getting offensive rebounds, making hustle plays and taking charges,” Sensor said. “We really guarded well in that start and that was the biggest key and will continue to be.”

As the season moves along, teams get better, and the Colts’ schedule isn’t easy.

“I think that’s a good thing that we’re facing the good teams and they are adjusting and making us play a different game than we were in the first month or so,” Sensor said. “We don’t have nights off in our section. If you don’t bring it, anybody can win, and that’s why we need to stress consistency, but that makes it fun.”

Every team in Section 4 is hovering around .500 or better. North Hills, Mars and Chartiers Valley have double-digit wins.

For a team that still is relatively youthful, Sensor said he expects some growing pains, but if his team is giving the effort and learning, they’ll be pleased.

It’s a Colts team playing just two seniors. Freshman Julian Semplice missed some of the preseason with an injury but has returned to play well, while a host of others like senior Brendan Cruz, juniors Gionni Jones, Jaxon Specht and TJ Kubiscek, among others, are contributing at a high level for a team that Sensor described before the season as one with a mix of youth and experience.

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