Trib HSSN Top 21 Stories of 2021: St. Clair Six pulled off state playoff stunner

Thursday, December 30, 2021 | 11:35 PM

The year 2021 wasn’t one giant leap for mankind, but it was one big step back toward “normalcy” for all of us, especially the high school athletes from around the WPIAL.

They were able to do what they love to do: compete on area fields, courts, mats and pools. They did so in front of fans again as the return of the loud and raucous student bodies to various events was like hot cocoa on a frigid night.

As has become a year-end tradition, Trib HSSN winds down the year with a daily countdown and a look back at the top 21 WPIAL stories from the year 2021.

No. 6 – Matheny magic

It wasn’t just about winning gold for Upper St. Clair senior swimmer; it was about breaking records and dominating the 100-meter butterfly in both the district and the state championships.

Mission accomplished.

This past winter, Matheny won the WPIAL and PIAA championships in the butterfly for a fourth straight year.

He set the district record at 54.50, and then in the state championships, he broke the state and National Federation of High Schools record with a time of 51.84.

He also won gold in the 200-yard individual medley and helped USC win the medley relay.

At the district finals held at USC, Matheny helped the Panthers win a WPIAL team title for the first time in 10 years.

The current Indiana swimmer finished fifth in the breaststroke at the Olympic trials over the summer.

No. 5 – Colts streak to record

While Clairton’s WPIAL and PIAA record 66-game winning streak in football came close to being passed by Southern Columbia this fall (the Tigers run ended at 65 wins in a row), another district team set the mark for longest winning streak in WPIAL and PIAA girls basketball history in January.

Chartiers Valley snapped the old streak of 62 straight held by Lancaster Catholic on Jan. 18 with a 91-39 win over Gateway for a 63rd consecutive victory.

The Colts added one more win to that record run before they lost to Trinity, 49-42, on Jan. 23, ending the streak at 64 in a row.

Chartiers Valley got the last laugh there nearly two months later, though, when it defeated Trinity, 62-40, to win a third straight WPIAL championship.

Tim McConnell became only the third coach in WPIAL history to win nine district crowns, having won three with the Colts girls team and six with the CV boys program.

No. 4 – St. Clair Six stunner

The celebratory mood of the Upper St. Clair boys basketball team got put into covid protocol.

Days after defeating Pine-Richland to win the 2021 WPIAL boys Class 6A basketball crown, players and coaches had to go into quarantine due to contact tracing when a player tested positive for covid-19.

A week after winning the district title, the Panthers opened up the PIAA playoffs against District 10 champion Erie. They did so with only six players and one volunteer assistant coach available for the game.

What happened after that is something Hollywood executives would argue is too unbelievable.

The St. Clair Six fought and clawed and ended up beating the Royals, 62-57.

With head coach Danny Holzer back and several starters returning, USC fell to District 3 power Reading in the state semifinals.

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