Chartiers Valley’s McConnells combine for another WPIAL title — this time girls
Saturday, March 2, 2019 | 4:28 PM
Tim McConnell thought back to eight years ago when he said someone made a comment to him that one day he’d coach his daughter, Megan.
“I told them I would never coach girls basketball,” he said.
He’s glad he was wrong.
In his first season as the Colts girls coach, he got to share a lot of special moments with Megan and a team that became an extended part of the family. It culminated with winning a WPIAL title and completing an undefeated district season.
The top-seeded Colts were dominant in a 64-48 victory over No. 6 Thomas Jefferson in the Class 5A final at Petersen Events Center.
Chartiers Valley (25-0) won its second title in three years.
“To be undefeated and win a WPIAL championship with these girls is pretty special,” McConnell said. “It’s not an easy thing to do to go 25-0 and not lose one game. It shows the character of these girls of how they came in ready night-in and night-out.”
McConnell added a girls title to his six boys championships and got to win with one of his children for the third time after winning boys titles with T.J. and Matty. It is believed McConnell is the first coach to win WPIAL boys and girls basketball titles.
Megan, a junior, got her second title, which gives her bragging rights among her siblings.
“I for sure do,” Megan said. “I have two, and they have one. This is great because it’s the first one with my dad, and it’s been the best. I love him and having him as a coach.”
Megan tied freshman Aislin Malcolm with a team-best 18 points. Gabby Legister scored 14 points, and Mackenzie Wagner added 10. Chartiers Valley’s fifth starter, Alexandra Ferrella, played a pivotal role in guarding Thomas Jefferson’s top player, Jenna Clark.
The way the team jelled this season was apparent in the postgame news conference. All five starters took the podium and were laughing and joking most of the time with coach McConnell.
“They knew I wasn’t coming to coach the girls just because I was coaching my daughter,” McConnell said. “I was still intense. Maybe I didn’t yell as much, but the game is still the same. They bought in and did everything we asked them to do.”
The Colts led 11-6 at the end of the first quarter and broke the game open with a 15-0 run in a span of three minutes in the second.
Malcolm started the run with a 3-pointer. Ferella followed with a steal and a layup. Legister scored in the paint on back-to-back possessions, the second on a rebound. Megan McConnell and Malcolm finished the run by nailing 3-pointers 40 seconds apart, which gave the Colts a 27-10 advantage.
McConnell added another 3-pointer from the left side just before the halftime buzzer to give the Colts a 30-15 lead.
“We didn’t do as good of a job on the boards as we wanted to,” Thomas Jefferson coach Lisa Fairman said. “When you give very strong offensive teams two or three opportunities, it’s going to come back and bite you and it did. We never gave up, but one of the things we like to do is own the boards and get out and run. I don’t think we got that started enough.”
Thomas Jefferson (19-7) was vying for its first WPIAL title and was in the championship for the first time since 1980. It had rolled its way through the playoffs winning every game by double-digits but fell against Chartiers Valley for the third time this season.
The Colts limited the Jaguars to single-digit point totals in each of the first three quarters.
“We talked about how our defense was the key to this game,” Wagner said. “We knew if we couldn’t stop them, especially Alyssa DeAngelo and Jenna Clark, we wouldn’t have as good of a chance of being successful.”
Clark, a Yale recruit, finished with 19 points, and DeAngelo scored 11 in the fourth quarter on her way to 17 points.
Though it didn’t go their way Saturday, Clark lauded her teammates for getting to a final for the first time in 39 years.
“I’m so proud of my team no matter what the outcome was today,” Clark said. “We knew we did everything we could’ve done going into the game. We prepared well, and we knew what we were getting into. Chartiers Valley is a tough team, so there’s nothing to hang your head about. We’ve worked hard, and to see how far we’ve come from the beginning of the season until now is incredible.”
Chartiers Valley will play General McLane, the third-place team in District 10, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs Saturday. Thomas Jefferson opens with Trinity.
— TribLive HSSN (@TribLiveHSSN) March 2, 2019
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer