Winning never gets old for Chartiers Valley girls basketball

Sunday, April 18, 2021 | 11:01 AM

It was a season like no other for the Chartiers Valley girls basketball team between shutdowns and record win streaks.

However, the one thing that was very similar to recent seasons was that the Colts galloped to another WPIAL championship.

“I said it before, but to win a WPIAL championship again this year with these girls has again been something special and it never gets old,” Chartiers Valley coach Tim McConnell said.

McConnell should know. He won six district titles as the boys coach at Chartiers Valley and is a perfect 3 for 3 as the Colts girls basketball coach.

Another thing that didn’t change, despite the pandemic, was a full schedule for Chartiers Valley, both in the regular season and the postseason.

“There were days when my phone would ring and it was my AD and I’m holding my breath that he’s going to tell me we’re closed down or the other team we’re playing is closed down,” McConnell said. “That was something we worried about, but I have to give my girls credit. We didn’t have to shut down one day because of covid, so I’m pretty pleased that were able to get 22 games, then the WPIAL playoffs and the state playoffs going all the way to Hershey. To do that this year I thought was tremendous.”

Chartiers Valley set a state record for most consecutive wins with a victory over Gateway on Jan. 18.

After knocking off Penn Hills three days later for a 64th consecutive win, the streak ended on Jan. 23 when Chartiers Valley lost to Trinity, 49-42.

In fact, the Colts lost three times in a span of 25 days with losses to the Hillers, North Allegheny and Oakland Catholic.

“I think people were looking past us because we had those three losses,” McConnell said. “I look back, and those losses probably helped us to focus and to get ready for the playoffs because once the playoffs started, I saw a different focus from our girls. They really wanted to win another WPIAL championship.”

Because of the PIAA transfer rule, Chartiers Valley had to play the postseason without starting point guard Marian Turnbull.

“Marian was a big part of our regular season,” McConnell said. “Helene Cowan didn’t play point guard one play during the year. We sat down with Helene and told her the ball is in her court. She did a tremendous job. She’s definitely our unsung hero. She doesn’t get her name in the paper for scoring, but she guarded the other teams’ best players. She rebounded for us. She stepped in and did a tremendous job in Marian’s absence.

“So did Abby Yates too. Abby was a sixth man for us this year, but she became a starter in the playoffs.”

A pair of juniors led the way in Pitt recruit Aislin Malcolm and Columbia recruit Perri Page. Both averaged over 16 points per game and were members of the Trib 10 girls basketball all-star team.

“Aislin Malcolm, who could probably average 25 points per game, and Perri Page could be selfish and average 20-something a game,” McConnell said. “But they buy into the team aspect, and they want to be successful. They are special because they don’t care about the individual accolades; they care more about the team.”

Class 5A No. 2 seed Chartiers Valley got the rematch it wanted with top-seeded Trinity in the district finals and for the second straight year, the Colts raced past the Hillers in the title game, 62-40.

“When we played them the first time, they flat out outworked us, they outhustled us, they outshot us, and they outplayed us,” McConnell said. “We challenged our girls and we told them, ‘If we’re going to be WPIAL champs, this needs to change.’ We handled their pressure early, and it led to some easy shots. I thought that was the big difference.”

Despite the Colts coming up short in the PIAA finals, losing to Cardinal O’Hara, the 2021 season was a memorable one for a team that returns everybody for the 2021-2022 campaign.

A season they hope is golden again.


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