Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Team of the Week: Chartiers Valley

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Monday, March 25, 2019 | 7:14 PM


The Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Team of the Week played 30 games and won all of them on their way to a district and state championship — the Chartiers Valley Colts.

Call it what you want: A dream season, a golden season, a perfect season. It was all of that and more in the 2018-19 girls basketball campaign for Chartiers Valley.

It all started with the offseason news that after 25 years coaching the Chartiers Valley boys’ program to great heights, Tim McConnell was taking over the Colts girls’ program.

When he took over, McConnell got “defensive” with his team.

“I told the girls in our first team meeting that I knew we could score, but we won’t be any good unless we learn how to play great defense,” McConnell said. “I think they bought in and really worked hard to play great team defense. This is definitely one of the better defensive teams I have coached.”

The numbers prove that.

The Colts allowed an average of 36 points, tops in WPIAL Class 5A.

In eight WPIAL and PIAA playoff games, Chartiers Valley held every team under 50 points, four under 40 points and two teams less than 30 points.

In the PIAA quarterfinals and semifinals, Chartiers Valley played a pair of district teams in Oakland Catholic and a rematch of the district finals with Thomas Jefferson.

In both games, the Colts were on the ropes in the second half, but answered, persevered and survived to pick up wins No. 28 and 29.

“That is the best thing with our team, we never panicked,” McConnell said. “As for the Oakland game, we were down six and Mackenzie hit two big back-to-back 3’s to tie the game. Then, we played really good defense down the stretch.

“As for the TJ game, they took a one-point lead in the third quarter and had some momentum, but we answered with back-to-back baskets to gain the lead back. I think the big reason these were possible was because of the leadership we have on our team.”

In the 50-44 victory over the Jaguars in the semifinals, it was a typical balanced scoring line for Chartiers Valley.

Freshman Aislin Malcolm led with 12 points while senior Mackenzie Wagner and junior Megan McConnell scored 10 points each.

“I think the reason we were so successful this year was because we didn’t count on one person to do all the scoring,” McConnell said. “Everyone took their turn leading us in scoring each and every night. If they took one player away, we had others that stepped up each and every game.”

So the final obstacle to an undefeated season and the program’s first state championship was District 12 champion Archbishop Carroll on Saturday.

“To beat Archbishop Carroll we knew we had to handle their press, play great defense and rebound the ball. I thought we did all three very well,” McConnell said.

Chartiers Valley enjoyed a three-point lead at halftime of the PIAA Class 5A championship game in Hershey, but then outscored Archbishop Carroll, 19-9, in the third quarter to take control.

The Colts won 53-40 with a pair of seniors leading the way. Wagner scored 24 points while Gabi Legister added 13.

“The feeling was awesome to see how happy the team was celebrating with each other,” McConnell said. “Then I thought wow, we are undefeated state champs. I was just so happy for the girls.”

The PIAA crown was the first in school history after the boys’ program under McConnell was 0-2 in state title games.

Chartiers Valley joined Peters Township as the fourth and fifth schools in WPIAL history to win a WPIAL and PIAA girls basketball championship with a perfect record, joining Mt. Lebanon, Seton La Salle and Mt. Alvernia.

“This was the perfect team because they were very unselfish and didn’t care about who got the recognition each and every night,” McConnell said. “All they cared about was playing for each other. That is why we were successful.”

Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.

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