Siblings square off as Chartiers Valley meets Trinity in Class 5A girls final

Friday, February 28, 2020 | 3:08 PM

It’ll be brother vs. sister Saturday for the WPIAL Class 5A girls title.

Chartiers Valley coach Tim McConnell will face Trinity, coached by his sister, Kathy McConnell-Miller, at 3 p.m. at Petersen Events Center.

The defending champion Colts, riding a 54-game winning streak, will face the Hillers, seeking that school’s first WPIAL basketball championship.

While Tim has accumulated over 500 high school victories and six WPIAL championships with Chartiers Valley’s boys and girls teams, this is Kathy’s first season on the high school level after coaching on the Division I college level and in the WNBA.

Tim and sister Suzie McConnell-Serio talked to McConnell-Miller about coaching in high school.

“He’s the one that encouraged me to take this job,” McConnell-Miller said. “I sat down at length with Tim and Suzie because I had never coached at the high school level. Both of them knew me the best and told me I would love it. To go up against him is somewhat ironic. There’s no one I’d rather play.”

Chartiers Valley has defeated Trinity twice in section play this season, 62-56 on the road and 67-50 at home.

“I could probably kick myself,” Tim McConnell said with a wry smile. “The Trinity principal told me they were looking for a coach, and I said I’ve got the perfect one for you. I probably shouldn’t have recommended her. She’s having fun and doing a great job. The one thing I know is there’s going to be a McConnell that wins the 5A championship.”

A win Saturday would put the Colts one victory away from the WPIAL record of 56 in a row set by North Catholic in the late 1980s.

Chartiers Valley punched its ticket to The Pete with a convincing, 65-43 victory over another section rival, Thomas Jefferson. The Colts soared out to a 19-0 lead.

Sophomore Hallie Cowan had a career-high 29 points, including six 3-pointers.

“I told them on different nights, different people step up and tonight was her night,” Tim McConnell said. “That’s why it’s a team. It’s not an individual sport. Hallie came ready to play and she was feeling it.”

“I was feeling it,” Cowan said. “Behind the 3-point line, I knew I was on and it kept on falling for me. We knew we had to come out and get them right from the start.”

Riley DeRubbo had 18 points in the semifinal victory Wednesday over Woodland Hills. McConnell-Miller has looked all season at DeRubbo’s leadership ability.

“I told her from day one that we’ll go as she goes,” her coach said. “Her ability to take over a game is what this team needs. They know when the ball’s in Riley’s hands, she makes good decisions.”

DeRubbo can’t wait to step on the Petersen Events Center floor.

“I’ve never been there. It’s something I’ve always wanted to experience,” DeRubbo said.

Both teams have already qualified for the PIAA tournament beginning March 7 – which means brother and sister could be squaring off once again.

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