Char Valley applies pressure to opponents againPublished Dec 16, 2013 at 1:50 pm (Updated Dec 16, 2013 at 1:50 pm)
Despite the defensive efforts of Braydon Griffiths, Jared Tuite maintains possession of the basketball. Tuite tossed in a game-high 20 points and led Chartiers Valley to victory over Keystone Oaks.
Imagine an army of ants converging on ice cream that spilled onto hot pavement during a warm summer day.
That’s the type of pressure Chartiers Valley applies upon opponents this basketball season.
“We are like ants,” agreed head coach Tim McConnell when posed with the analogy. “We want to be pesky and nibble at our opponents.”
In their Section 5-AAA opener, the Colts feasted on Keystone Oaks, pulverizing the Golden Eagles, 83-44. Five players sated themselves with double digits.
Jerrad Tuite led the assault, firing in 20 points. Matty McConnell followed with 17 markers, 12 off four, three-point field goals. Haedyn Herzer, Joe Antonucci and Eddie Flohr all finished with 10 tallies.
“We are sharing the ball well,” said McConnell of the combined offensive output. “We are passing the ball well and we are showing quickness.
“But,” he added. “I like to see us step it up on the press. Sometimes we were standing around and watching. We have to do a better job at that.”
For bigger prey is on the menu for the Colts, who were WPIAL runners-up and PIAA quarterfinalists last winter. But Char Valley has little height to contend with the Class AAA giants as it sets out to improve upon last year’s 24-5 mark.
The Colts graduated Spencer Casson and Michael Boulos. Both were all-section performers but Casson, at 6-7, represented the team’s height. He averaged 17.9 points per game and a triple-double almost every evening.
With veterans like McConnell, Herzer and Tuite, the Colts are guard-oriented more by force than by choice as no player stands taller than 6 feet.
McConnell averaged 15.8 points as a sophomore last year. He buried 72, 3-point field goals and averaged nearly four steals a game. A senior, Herzer pitched in 6.7 points and almost three steals a game in 2012-13. In the four games he played before shattering his kneecap, Tuite managed 11.3 points and 4.3 assists a game.
“Jerrad is slow but sure. By working hard, he’s starting to come into his own,” McConnell said.
“We’re asking Matty to do a lot because he’s one of our tallest guys. He has to do the dirty work. He has to get rebounds. He’s doing that well.”
Passing has been CV’s forte and McConnell is pleased with the effort, which has also come from fifth starter, Kyle Westover, as well as key reserves such as Ross Wilkerson, Jake Ritson, Nick Jesslowski, Jake Collins, Coleman Vaughn, Cole Horew, Joe Sibeto and Caleb Zajicek.
“That’s what I like about this team. We’re sharing the ball well,” McConnell continued. “It’s a very unselfish group of guys. They care about each other. That can take you a long way.”
Talent has already taken the Colts a long way. They tipped off the season in the Bahamas, competing in the KSA Atlantis Tournament in Nassau.
Because of their winning tradition—they have been to the district championships four times in the past five years—and McConnell’s coaching reputation—five WPIAL titles, three state finals and one PIAA runner-up trophy—the Colts have traveled throughout the country, competing in tournaments in Florida, California, Texas, Arizona and Las Vegas in the past.
“Best trip that we’ve ever been on,” said McConnell of the Bahamas. “The kids loved it. We kept them busy.”
In addition to staying at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, the players swam with dolphins and visited the many water parks in the area. The Colts also played a little basketball, even the junior varsity squad had two exhibitions against teams from the Bahamas. Meanwhile the varsity racked up three victories. The Colts opened with a 70-59 victory against Tottenville, N.Y. After thrashing Pace, Fla., 65-35, CV edged Ralston Valley from Colorado, 54-51.
“We played three very good games,” McConnell said. “We shot well and we pressed well. I was pleased with our effort.”
Even though he has experienced 464 victories to date against 111 defeats during his two decades as a coach at CV, McConnell still has the passion for coaching and practicing.
“I enjoy coming to practice,” he said. “I enjoy seeing them getting after the basketball. That makes me happy. We don’t have a lot of size but we work hard.”
Just like ants, CV intends on being industrious well into March madness.
“We’re taking it one step at a time,” said McConnell. “The goal is to keep getting better every day. If we continue to make progress, good things will happen. It’s early yet, but I like this group.”