PIAA win cures ailing CV Colts
A 68-54 victory over Erie Strong Vincent (17-9) in the first round of the PIAA playoffs was just what the doctored ordered for the Chartiers Valley boys’ basketball team, especially after their sickening loss to Central Valley by a mere point in the WPIAL championship game.
“A win cures everything,” said Tim McConnell, who dug deep to prepare his Colts for the state tournament after their devastating defeat in the district finals only a week prior. “Any win after that [WPIAL] game was a good win.
“It was perhaps the toughest loss in my coaching career,” added McConnell of the 70-69 game decided in the last 0.6 seconds of double overtime. “We had a tough loss but when it was 15-3, I thought maybe we don’t have a WPIAL hangover.”
All of sudden, however, it was 31-31 at halftime. And, McConnell again found himself trying to fire up his players.
His words worked. The Colts stormed out of the locker room and exploded for 21, third-quarter points to break open the contest and take a 52-43 lead. By the fourth frame, Jerrad Tuite was able to salt away the victory as he converted 11 of 12 free throws. The senior point guard finished with a game-high 21 points.
“Jerrad’s a great foul shooter. He’s done that all season for us,” McConnell said. “He’s phenomenal. He has a lot of confidence. We wanted to get the ball in his hands.”
From the onset, CV wanted to get the ball into the hands of its shooters and they responded, burying nine, 3-point field goals in the contest. Jake Ritson got the long-range shooting started. Ross Wilkerson extended it. He fired in three treys and finished with 11 tallies.
“One thing we noticed when we watched the film on the WPIAL game was that we were not penetrating and not getting the open shots. We did a better job of that against [Erie],” said McConnell. “Those shots by Ross and Jake were big ones.”
Through three quarters, Matt McConnell came up with big shots. He also drained a three in the first frame, when CV nailed four outside shots and soared to a 19-8 advantage. McConnell finished with 14 markers.
But the third quarter was the breakout frame for the Colts as Wilkerson connected on two treys and Tuite buried a buzzer beater.
“In the second half,” McConnell said. “We defended better. We took care of the ball. We hit more shots.
“I’m real proud of the effort my guys gave me,” McConnell continued. “We kept battling. We kept going.”
As a result of that performance, the Colts (25-2) are going on to the second round of the state playoffs. They will face Lancaster Mennonite, a 70-44 winner over Somerset, March 11 at a site and time to be determined.
In PIAA girls’ first-round playoff action, WPIAL Class AA champion Seton-La Salle had an easy go of it against Blairsville, posting a 58-37 win over the Bobcats at Chartiers Valley High School gym.
Nicolete Newman buried four, 3-pointers and finished with 18 points for the Lady Rebels, who improved to 23-4 overall. Yacine Diop pumped in 18 tallies as well while she also pulled down eight rebounds. Cassidy Walsh pitched in 11 markers.
Chelsey Koren and Laurel O’Barto finished in double digits for the Bobcats, firing in 18 and 11 points respectively.
The Rebels will play Greensburg Central Catholic (20-5) in their second-round PIAA playoff game set for March 11 at a site and time to be determined.
In other action, Bishop Canevin defeated Juniata, 61-30.
Johnnie Olkosky tossed in 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Erin Joyce pitched in with 15 points for the Lady Crusaders, who improved to 20-6 overall.
Meanwhile Mt. Lebanon dropped a 51-50 decision to State College and ended its season at 16-7.
For the Lebo ladies, who trailed, 33-22, at halftime, Christine Ehland led with 18 points.