WPIAL Girls Basketball Team of the Week: Week ending Mar. 15
Wednesday, March 18, 2020 | 11:17 PM
In 2016, the Trinity girls basketball team reached the WPIAL Class AAA finals before losing to South Fayette.
A year later, after losing to Chartiers Valley in the district semifinals, the Hillers went on a run in the PIAA playoffs that landed them in Hershey and the first Class 5A state title game. Trinity lost to Archbishop Wood.
Now fast forward to last month. After finishing in second place in Section 1-5A, Trinity defeated Gateway and Woodland Hills in the quarterfinals and semifinals to reach the WPIAL championship game. There, the Hillers lost to undefeated Chartiers Valley, 58-40.
Trinity hoped the PIAA postseason would offer more than another silver lining as it hoped to climb the state playoff hill to claim a pot full of gold.
“Everyone talked about how difficult it is to respond after the WPAL (title) game, win or lose,” Trinity coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said. “But I believe our team responded as we expected. Our practices were intense, competitive and the prep for our opponents was efficient.”
Trinity was nearly halfway up the hill after two victories when the PIAA put the state basketball playoffs on hold as the state, country and world battle the coronavirus pandemic.
After beating Penn Hills in the first round, the Hillers were slated to play District 1 runner-up Great Valley last Wednesday at Chambersburg.
The Mt. Lebanon boys basketball team was scheduled to play in the game after Trinity, but Mt. Lebanon officials decided the team would not make the trip because of health concerns.
“We didn’t have any concerns traveling to Chambersburg for our PIAA game,” McConnell-Miller said. “We definitely were aware and careful and took necessary precautions throughout the day. We believed the PIAA, Chambersburg High School and our athletic administration took the appropriate measures to ensure our health and safety throughout the trip.”
The trip turned out to be a successful one, as the Hillers shut down the Patriots offense and won their second-round playoff game, 47-28. Trinity’s defense registered 13 steals and forced 20 turnovers.
“I thought our defense really set the tone against Great Valley,” McConnell-Miller said. “After scouting them as a team, we knew they like to push the ball and play a high possession game and score in transition. Our focus was to defend the full length of the court, pressure their ball handlers, turn them over and score through our defense.”
Trinity led 6-4 after the first quarter before settling in on offense, expanding its lead to 10 points at halftime and 22 points after three quarters.
“In the first half, I thought we settled for shots early in the offense, but as the game went on, we made adjustments that gave us better looks and higher percentage shots,” McConnell-Miller said. “A big part of our ability to score was getting Courtney Dahlquist more inside touches. She really impacted the game on both ends of the floor.”
The team’s leading scorer this season is senior Riley DeRubbo, who averages 17 points per game. She went one better with a game-high 18 points for the Hillers.
“Riley DeRubbo played a great floor game,” McConnell-Miller said. “She really showed her versatility against Great Valley. She handled their pressure, facilitated in getting us into scoring position as well as led us with 18 points and eight rebounds. It was a pleasure to watch Riley lead us on such a big stage in such a competitive game.”
Another standout in the game for Trinity was the play of junior Ashley Durig.
“Ashley Durig has been one of the most consistent players for us the entire season,” McConnell-Miller said. “I love the toughness and grit she brings to this team. She’s a game changer.”
A day after Trinity advanced to the state quarterfinals, the PIAA suspended the rest of the tournament. A week later, everybody still waits in limbo.
No scrimmage, no practices, no team meetings. Like everybody else still alive, Trinity must wait to see if its third-round game against District 3 champion Gettysburg will be played.
“We look forward with the hope that we will continue the season,” McConnell-Miller said. “We understand if that does not happen that we will look at this season as a success. We have an amazing group of young women that are committed to being the best student-athletes that continue to represent Trinity Area High School and their families on and off the court.
“It has been a pleasure coaching them and growing with them throughout this season. I am so proud of what they have accomplished and feel blessed to have been a part of their journey.”
Previous Trib HSSN Teams of the Week:
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