CV Colts look to recover in state tournament
Chartiers Valley (24-2) plays its toughest game of the basketball season when the Colts battle Erie Strong Vincent (17-8) at 7:30 p.m. March 7 at Baldwin.
The PIAA Class AAA tournament opener comes on the heels of the Colts’ bitter loss to Central Valley in the WPIAL championship game played at Duquesne’s Palumbo Center. In double overtime, CV fell to the Warriors, 70-69, when Tom Gates made a free throw with 0.6 seconds to play to seal the victory.
“No question, this is one of the toughest losses I’ve been involved in,” said Tim McConnell, who had guided the Colts to the WPIAL finals 10 times, winning five times. The defeat nearly rivaled a double-overtime loss to West Allegheny in the 2007 final. The Colts also fell in last year’s title tilt to Montour.
“We wanted [the WPIAL] championship,” said McConnell. “[The loss] was hard to swallow. It’s real tough. Really hard,” he added. “They guys were really down.
“We knew they would be good. We knew it would be a battle. All we can do now is regroup and see what we can do in states.”
Prior to the loss to Central Valley, the Colts had been ranked No. 2 in Pennsylvania. Hence, they are expected to be competitive at the PIAA level. They must, however, correct the flaws that led to their demise against the Warriors.
“We did not take care of business,” said McConnell. “We did not take care of the ball. We made too many turnovers and we missed some free throws. It’s tough to win games when you don’t do that.
“We expected a battle. It was all that we anticipated. We just came up on the short end of the stick.”
Gates made sure the Colts did. He made all seven of his points during overtime, when the Warriors were without three starters because they had fouled out of the contest. After Matt McConnell had tied the game, 69-69, with 49 seconds to play, Central Valley wound down the clock and set up a last-chance play with 10.8 seconds left. As Gates drove the key to attempt a layup, the Colts were charged with a blocking foul.
McConnell said he was ‘surprised’ by a call. “I’d have to look at the film but you hate for a game to be decided in the last 0.6 seconds on a charge or blocking call.”
With four seconds left in regulation, Mike Sims tied the game at 55 and forced the first extra period. Sims finished with 12 tallies. Jacob St. George led with 17 markers and John George supplied 10 points.
Also, Brian Kolich pitched in 10 off the bench. He and Matt Kline made two free throws each in the second overtime to lift the Warriors to a 67-63 lead. The points were the first for Kline since scoring six in the first frame.
Eddie Flohr and McConnell tied the game at 1:15 with baskets before Gates edged CV ahead. Yet again, McConnell answered with a hoop. He finished with 22 tallies.
Jerrad Tuite led the Colts with 27 markers. He connected on 18 of 22 free throws, most of them converted in the fourth quarter and overtime periods. Flohr followed with 13 points.
“They battled,” McConnell said. “It was a great game, a great championship match.”