Chartiers Valley boys finding success under 1st-year coach

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Thursday, January 10, 2019 | 7:57 PM


After Chartiers Valley’s loss to Moon on Jan. 8, boys basketball coach Brandon Sensor went back and watched the film. He studied, assessed and took notes.

The first-year coach saw several things he liked in the 69-64 loss. There also was plenty that left him shaking his head.

“We didn’t execute well in a lot of things,” he said. “We could play so much better in the little things. We have so much work to do, but we were still right in there at the end and had a chance.”

Midway through the season (as of Jan. 10), the No. 4-ranked Colts were 4-1 in Section 2-5A and 8-2 overall. Their only other loss was to undefeated Class 6A Upper St. Clair.

Sensor, of course, took over the team from longtime coach Tim McConnell, who moved over to the top seat on the girls bench. It was a tough act to follow, but Sensor and his players believe sailing, for the most part, has been smooth.

“Right now, we’re real comfortable,” senior guard Joe Pipilo said. “Coach McConnell was a great coach, but we love having Coach Sensor here.”

Added Sensor: “They have embraced me as their coach. There have been a little bit of growing pains, learning new stuff and learning a new way of playing defense and, offensively, playing a new system. And from a coaching aspect, we have to learn what they are good at. And we’re still learning.”

Save for a couple of speed bumps, the Colts have had their way with their opponents, outscoring them by an average of 15 per game through the first 10 games. That, Sensor said, is what made the loss to section foe Moon — undefeated through Jan. 10 — a good experience.

Sensor’s mantra is: get a little better every day. Though the players were upset with the loss, particularly given it was their first in the section and dropped them a game behind the Tigers, Sensor said they learned from it.

“I thought our shot selection, we were impatient and took a lot of bad shots,” he said. “We didn’t move the ball well enough, and we kind of let Moon dictate the pace to us.

“Defensively, we didn’t get back in transition. … And in our half-court (defense), we weren’t executing at all.”

On the bright side, Pipilo said, playing No. 2 Moon close proved to the team it, indeed, could be a contender for the WPIAL Class 5A title.

“We know we can compete with them,” said Pipilo, who had 12 points and 15 rebounds against the Tigers. “We think we are one of the best teams in 5A. We forced a couple shots at the end there. We know we can get better from there.”

Part of improving over the second half of the season could involve more contributions from the reserves. Sensor said he feels like he can go five to seven guys down his bench and “not be worried” about losing ground.

He even admitted he might not have used them as much as he could have against Moon.

Chalk that up to another part of the learning process for a first-year coach and his players. But with the second half of the season in front of them, Pipilo and his teammates are confident they can be one of the last teams standing.

“We feel like we are the best-shooting team in the WPIAL,” Pipilo said. “Our defense has gotten a lot better. We get a lot of steals, and it helps us in transition.

“Just take it day by day and get a little better every day. If we do that, we are going to be a pretty good team by the end of the year.”

Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at ccurti@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CCurti_Trib.

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