Trinity girls stop Woodland Hills, set up WPIAL finals showdown with Chartiers Valley

Wednesday, February 26, 2020 | 9:43 PM

After coaching in college and in the WNBA, Kathy McConnell-Miller is experiencing success in her first season on the high school level.

McConnell-Miller’s Trinity Hillers are headed for Petersen Events Center after a 50-33 Class 5A semifinal victory over Woodland Hills on Wednesday night at Mt. Lebanon High School.

Following a slow start, Trinity caught fire in the second period, ending the half with an 8-0 run to lead, 19-14, at the intermission.

Riley DeRubbo led the Hillers (19-4) with 18 points, and Courtney Dahlquist added 10.

After making the finals in 2016, Trinity will seek its first WPIAL title at 3 p.m. Saturday against Chartiers Valley, the team coached by Kathy’s older brother, Tim McConnell.

“I just told them how proud I was of them right now,” McConnell-Miller said.”When I took over this job, they communicated and had no problems showing what their goals were. One of them was winning a WPIAL championship, and I was proud they articulated that.”

Woodland Hills, in the semifinals for the first time since 1998, saw its record fall to 19-5.

The Hillers didn’t score during the game’s first five minutes as the Wolverines took an 8-2 lead.

DeRubbo’s 3-point basket, Trinity’s only one of the game, made it 8-5.

The Hillers finally took their first lead on a basket by Alyssa Clutter with 1 minute, 26 seconds left in the second period.

“It was really a result of our defense and the fact that we were getting stops,” McConnell-Miller said. “We were able to transition and run our offense on every single possession.”

As the half wound to a close, DeRubbo rebounded and hurled a long, downcourt pass to Kaylin Venick who scored with 0.2 seconds left.

“After the first half was over, we came in and we knew we had to pick up our pace,” DeRubbo said. “We all stuck together, pushed each other and got it going in the second half.”

In the third period, Trinity took its first double-digit lead, 26-16, on a basket by Ashley Durig, who broke through a double team.

Woodland Hills coach Theron Pitts said his team got away from the formula that allowed it to experience a strong season.

“We became individuals,” Pitts said. “Our goal is to win each quarter. We won the first quarter but then stopped doing the things that got us the lead. I warned them not to become five individuals. We didn’t get back on defense, and they started worrying about the officiating.”

Pitts added that the Wolverines were doing well working the ball inside but started shooting from the outside, and Trinity was able to dominate the boards.

Two baskets by Peyton Pinkney cut the Hillers’ lead to 28-24 with 3:37 to go in the third quarter, but the Wolverines couldn’t get any closer the rest of the way.

Joi Burleigh had 11 points for Woodland Hills before fouling out with 2:07 left in the game.

The Wolverines could muster only eight points in the final period as Trinity continued to build its lead.

Said Pitts: “They’re a solid team, one through seven, and they laid it on us. They’re a very disciplined team. When you look at the perspective of physicality, they outmuscled us.”

Pinkney led Woodland Hills with nine rebounds.

Despite the loss, the Wolverines will head to the PIAA playoffs late next week.

Trinity will be in the PIAA tournament for the seventh straight season.

Listen to an archived broadcast on Trib HSSN.

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