Chartiers Valley girls bask, just briefly, in state record winning streak

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Sunday, January 24, 2021 | 8:01 AM


For months, weeks, even days leading up to Jan. 18, Chartiers Valley girls basketball coach Tim McConnell did not want to talk about or mention “the streak.”

Then, once the longest winning streak in PIAA girls basketball history was owned by his Colts, he finally talked about it, but issued a warning beforehand.

“I’ll talk about it tonight, and after tonight, we won’t address it anymore. But I am proud of these girls,” he said.

On Jan. 18 against a substitute Gateway opponent, the Colts set a new PIAA record with a 63rd straight win. It broke the mark of 62 set by Lancaster Catholic in 2019.

The Gators replaced South Fayette on the schedule less than five hours before tipoff after covid-19 issues kept the Lions from a battle of unbeaten teams in Section 1-5A.

Winless Gateway was no match, however, as the two-time defending WPIAL 5A champion Colts cruised to a 91-39 triumph.

“I don’t coach for any records, I don’t coach for any streaks,” McConnell said afterward. “I enjoy teaching the game of basketball, and I enjoy working with young women and young men. I want to give back to the great game that has been so good to me.”

It was ironic that Gateway was the 63rd victim because the Gators were the last WPIAL opponent to beat Chartiers Valley. That happened in the 2018 WPIAL semifinals, 44-42.

The Colts lost their next game as well in the first round of the PIAA playoffs, falling to Harbor Creek, 57-52, on March 10, 2018.

Dan Slain resigned as Colts head coach after that season, and the Chartiers Valley school board hired McConnell as the new girls coach after 25 successful years as the Colts boys coach.

Chartiers Valley hasn’t lost since.

“I would have (switched) 25 years ago,” McConnell joked when asked about never having tasted defeat since making the jump from boys to girls.

McConnell admitted breaking the record is nice, and all the credit in the world goes to the players, but he said that’s not what drives them.

“This is a special group,” he said. “They could be selfish and try to score a lot of points and impress college coaches, but they don’t care about getting their name in the paper. They just care about each other, and they care about winning. That’s a joy to coach.”

Here are some other factoids surrounding the historic run for the Chartiers Valley girls basketball program.

• Victory No. 1 in “the streak” took place Dec. 7, 2018 when the Colts claimed the first of their 30 wins that season with a 64-40 triumph over Mt. Lebanon.

• In any long streak, there are close calls. The closest may have come on Jan. 23, 2020 when the Colts had additional time put on the clock in the waning seconds, then Perri Page barely beat the buzzer in a 42-41 thriller over Thomas Jefferson.

• Last February, Chartiers Valley passed North Catholic for the longest WPIAL girls winning streak at 57 in a row.

• There were local ties to Lancaster Catholic’s 62-game win streak. The then-tying 61st win came in the PIAA first round in a 52-24 victory over Quaker Valley. The Crusaders broke the record with a second-round win over Central Valley, 59-29. However, the streak ended in the quarterfinals when Lancaster Catholic lost to Mifflinburg in overtime, 72-70.

• It is believed that the longest girls basketball winning streak in the state was set by old St. James High School in the West End. They won 66 in a row from 1950 into the 1952-53 season, but they were not in the PIAA. They belonged to the old PCIAA catholic league. That streak ended on Dec. 6, 1952 in a 33-31 loss to St. Albert the Great.

• The longest boys high school basketball win streak in the state is old West Philadelphia. They won 68 straight games from 1976-1978. During that time, the Speedboys were led by Future Duke and NBA star Gene Banks. The streak ended on Feb. 21, 1978 in a 62-61 loss to Overbrook.

• For the record, the longest boys win streak in WPIAL basketball history is shared between the 1963-65 Uniontown Red Raiders and the 1983-85 Washington Little Prexies. Both schools won 52 games in a row.

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