Chartiers Valley strikes back at Trinity, wins 3rd straight WPIAL title

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Monday, March 15, 2021 | 10:07 PM


Almost two months ago, the top-seeded Trinity Hillers did something no other team had done in almost three years.

They beat the two-time defending WPIAL Class 5A champion Chartiers Valley Colts in a nonsection matchup and snapped their state-record 64-game winning streak in the process.

“They beat us on Jan. 23 and they broke our streak,” Chartiers Valley girls basketball coach Tim McConnell said. “But in all honesty, I told you from the beginning if you listened, I didn’t care about that streak.”

On Monday at Peters Township’s AHN Arena the No. 2 Colts (23-3) kept a different streak alive. With four players in double digits, they exacted their revenge on the Hillers and won their third straight WPIAL Class 5A championship in dominating fashion with a 62-40 victory.

“The streak I care about is that’s a three-peat. That’s three in a row,” McConnell said. “I’ll take that streak any day. I said we were here to win WPIAL championships. I never got into coaching to break streaks. I never even thought about breaking a streak.

“It was nice, but there will be some team that comes by next year, three years, 10 years, 20 years, that will be special and they’ll break our streak and it will move on, but you can’t take away a WPIAL championship. It will be etched in stone for life.”

The Colts will host District 10 champion Warren (22-3) on Saturday in the PIAA quarterfinals.

On Jan. 23, the Hillers squeaked out a 49-42 victory over the Colts, but Monday’s game was completely different.

Chartiers Valley forward Perri Page, who scored 18 points for the Colts, got the game started with a layup, and Trinity senior Kaylin Venick answered with a 3-pointer to give the Hillers an early one-point lead.

Helene Cowan hit a free throw moments later to tie the game at 3 and the Colts took over from there.

Powered by seven points from guard Aislin Malcolm, the Colts went on an 18-2 run and never looked back as they built a 22-10 first quarter lead.

“That was absolutely important, and we knew we wanted to come out swinging,” McConnell said. “I got to be honest with you. Our sports psychologist with the district talked to our team about being lions and king of the jungle and attacking and that was our mindset. We were going out and attacking.”

During their matchup earlier in the year, Malcolm was held to just nine points. On Monday, the Pitt-bound guard scored a team-high 19 points. She hit six field goals, including two 3-pointers, and went 5 for 6 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter to seal the deal.

“We all just executed a lot better this game and got me open shots, but we also got everyone open shots,” Malcolm said.

The Cowan sisters, Hallie and Helene, chipped in with 13 and 12 points respectively.

Venick led Trinity with a team-high 15 points and paced the Hillers early with three first-half 3-pointers. Despite the senior guard’s efforts, the Hillers didn’t get the production they normally get from across the board.

“We just didn’t score easily as we normally do,” Trinity coach Kathy McConnell-Miller, who is Tim McConnell’s sister, said about the big difference between their first and second matchup. “Courtney (Dahlquist) is one of our leading scorers, she’s an inside-outside threat, and (Alyssa) Clutter, she averages 13 points a game. So right there, we’re looking at just over 30 points a game, and we just didn’t get from them tonight what we normally get.”

Besides Venick, Clutter was the only other Hiller in double digits with 10 points. Dahlquist, who entered Monday’s matchup averaging 17 points per game, scored four.

After watching her score 19 points against them the first time, Tim McConnell said the focus was on Dahlquist this time around, and it showed on the scoreboard.

Page, a Columbia recruit, guarded Dahlquist for most of the night, and Malcolm said after their first matchup, she knew her teammate wouldn’t let her down.

“We knew last game she was the one that beat us,” Malcolm said. “I knew Perri was going to be unstoppable tonight, though, and was going to be able to guard her.”

Monday’s victory marked the fourth title in five seasons for Chartiers Valley. McConnell has been at this stage a time or two and even though it wasn’t at a big-time arena, he said the feeling never changes.

“I know it wasn’t at the Pete, or the Palumbo Center, or Robert Morris, but it never gets old,” McConnell said. “It’s a WPIAL championship.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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