Thomas Jefferson set for another rivalry matchup with Chartiers Valley girls

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Sunday, January 24, 2021 | 8:01 AM


The rivalry continues.

No two girls basketball teams in the WPIAL have met as many times over the past two seasons as Chartiers Valley and Thomas Jefferson.

The Colts have won seven in a row against the TJ girls, including a 64-48 victory in 2019 at the WPIAL Class 5A finals, two section wins last season, and a 65-43 decision at last year’s WPIAL semifinals.

CV’s magic number in section play against the Jaguars in 2019-20 was 42, as the Colts defeated TJ by scores of 42-34 and 42-41.

“It has become a great rivalry over the last two years because we both have had great players that want to win,” CV coach Tim McConnell said. “Plus, we have played seven times in a two-year period; this has helped to build the rivalry, as well. Also, they are well-coached.”

McConnell has achieved more than 500 wins and seven WPIAL championships in his coaching career with CV’s boys and girls teams.

Game No. 8 between the two teams last winter was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The rivals were scheduled to play March 14 in the PIAA quarterfinal round.

“When you play a team seven times in two years, it says a lot about the success of both programs,” TJ coach Lisa Fairman said. “I feel both teams have a respect for one another and yet a drive and passion to compete hard every game.

“These kids battle on the court but are friends off the court and that’s the greatness of the sport. TJ and CV games draw huge crowds (pre-pandemic). People come out to watch the talent on both teams along with exciting, energetic games. It’s great to see this kind of competitive rivalry in high school sports and it’s very special to be a part of it.”

Due to WPIAL realignment, CV and TJ are in different sections this season. However, they will meet again in a nonsection matchup Jan. 30 at Charters Valley. CV is ranked No. 1 in the HSSN weeking rankings; TJ is third.

The Chartiers Valley girls eclipsed the WPIAL record for consecutive wins last season with a 55-38 victory against Hollidaysburg in the PIAA playoffs. It was the Colts’ 57th win in a row and final game of 2019-20 because of the pandemic.

North Catholic had held the record for 31 years.

The Colts broke the state record Jan. 18 with a 91-39 nonsection win over Gateway. It was CV’s 63nd consecutive win, which eclipsed the longest streak (62 games) in PIAA girls basketball set by Lancaster Catholic in 2017-19.

Chartiers Valley’s starting lineup consists of 6-foot forward Perri Page, guard/forward Aislin Malcolm, and guards Hallie Cowan, Helene Cowan and Marian Turnbull. All five are juniors.

The 5-11 Malcolm averaged 16.7 ppg and was named TribLive HSSN Girls Basketball Player of the Year last season.

Chartiers Valley has two Division I recruits. The 5-foot-10 Malcolm committed to Pitt in December. The 5-11 Page committed Jan. 1 to Columbia.

Thomas Jefferson counters with a lineup consisting of senior G/F Maddy Trainer; two junior guards, Gracie Fairman and Lydia Zoglmann; and two freshmen, forward Gabrielle Breisinger and guard Laekyn Flinn.

The only senior starter for the Colts last season was fiery guard Megan McConnell, now a freshman at Duquesne. McConnell was well-versed on the Jaguars as a four-year starter at CV.

“TJ’s a very competitive team,” she said. “They have some talented players and they give it their all every game, especially against us.

“Playing a team seven times in two years is pretty difficult. They were the closest team to defeat us (in 2019-20). They are definitely one of our biggest rivalries.”

Charters Valley went 30-0 in winning section, WPIAL and PIAA titles in 2018-19, and ended up 27-0 last season, winning section and WPIAL titles.

“CV is a talented team and is very well rounded,” Fairman said. “They do a good job of getting to the rim and have shooters on the outside.”

CV has won three WPIAL titles in the past four seasons.

The last time TJ beat CV came three years ago. The teams met only once that season.

Alyssa DeAngelo was a sophomore starter for the Jaguars in 2017-18.

“There is definitely a rivalry between us. I’m not sure how there couldn’t be when we’ve seen them (seven) times in two seasons,” said DeAngelo, now a freshman guard/forward at Fairmont State. “The stakes are high every time we play them, but personally that’s what I love about basketball. We’ve come very close to beating them, and I know my team always looks for one more chance at playing them. As an athlete, there’s no better feeling than those high intensity games.”

Chartiers Valley has dominated the series over the years, winning 20 of the past 25 matchups between the two teams.

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