Chartiers Valley finishes stretch of 4 games in 2 tournaments over 3 days with win at Latrobe

Thursday, December 30, 2021 | 10:21 PM

Playing four games in three days didn’t seem to bother the Chartiers Valley girls basketball team.

Especially their starters.

The Colts used more bus drivers this week than they did reserves in Thursday night’s WPIAL semifinal rematch against Latrobe, playing their starting five for most of the game in a 64-45 win at the Latrobe Holiday Hoops Fest.

In an effort to get in the maximum number of games, the top-ranked Colts played in two holiday tournaments and didn’t lose in either of them.

The Colts (8-1) went 4-0, winning two games at Latrobe and two more at the North Allegheny Tournament.

They beat 5A No. 2 Trinity on Tuesday at North Allegheny in McCandless, toppled 5A No. 5 Indiana on Wednesday afternoon at Latrobe, then went back to North Allegheny and defeated 3A No. 1 North Catholic before rerouting again a day later to face Latrobe.

“The girls love to play,” coach Tim McConnell said. “To be honest, if we had the chance to do it again, I would. We want to make sure we get the games.”

All told, the Colts traveled about 185 miles in three days — all that after returning from a three-game tournament in New Jersey just before Christmas.

Latrobe (4-2) was hoping for a better showing than last year’s 59-43 loss in the WPIAL 5A semis at Chartiers Valley, but a cold-shooting second quarter opened the door for the Colts to surge ahead.

On one possession, the Wildcats missed six shots in a row, perhaps a telltale sign how this game was going to go.

Trailing just 18-14 after the first quarter, Latrobe was outcored 20-4 in the second to fall behind by 20 at the half (38-18).

The taller Wildcats also were down by 20 after three quarters (53-33).

Catching the Colts on an off day does not happen very often, if ever. Planning for them to be fatigued was wishful thinking for the Wildcats.

“This is nothing for them,” Latrobe coach Mark Burkhardt said of the four-game stretch. “They’re used to playing four or five games in a day in AAU.”

Balanced scoring and hot 3-point shooting allowed the two-time defending WPIAL champions to take command and snap Latrobe’s three-game winning streak.

The Colts made 10 3s, including four from senior guard Marian Turnbull, who had 12 points.

All five starters scored in double figures led by senior guard Helene Cowan, who had a season-high 18 points.

Senior forward Perri Page, a Columbia commit, added 14, while senior guards Aislin Malcolm and Hailie Cowan had 10 apiece.

The Cowan twins are committed to Seton Hill.

Malcolm, who is headed to Pitt, was held in check early but her teammates picked up the slack.

The Colts might not have a deep rotation, but the starters pack a punch.

“We did well on Malcolm and the Turnbull girl goes off,” Burkhardt said. “They’re the best girls team I’ve seen or got to play against. Our girls wanted to play them. The thing is, if you’re going to go anywhere in 5A, you’re going to see them at some point.”

Sophomore Elle Snyder was a bright spot for the Wildcats, finishing with a team-best 17 points, including three 3-pointers in the second half when she scored 13.

“That was (Snyder’s) best defensive game and most complete game of her career,” Burkhardt said. “She really did some good things.”

Senior forward Anna Rafferty, an IUP commit, added 11 points for Latrobe.

“We wanted to keep them off the boards the best we could,” McConnell said. “I thought we did a good job defensively. They got some wide-open looks, but we did pretty well against their size. This game mirrored (last year’s semifinal).”

Latrobe played nearly even with the Colts in the second half, opening the third with a 9-0 run to get to within 53-40. Snyder made a 3 and scored on a backdoor layup.

But Helene Cowan made another 3 and Malcolm hit a soft jumper and the lead was back to 18 (60-42).

“We had to decide if we were going to lose by 12 or put them at the line,” Burkhardt said. “I was happy with how we battled back. We got shots. Our shot selection was good. We didn’t make them.”

In the second quarter, Snyder scored to cut the deficit to 22-16, but the Colts went on a 14-2 run with Turnbull, Malcolm and Hailie Cowan hitting 3s to widen the gap.

Latrobe led only once, at 6-5.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .

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