Chartiers Valley streak upped to 18 victories
Charters Valley senior Erica Restich says there is more than one standout senior at her school who wants to win a WPIAL basketball championship.
So, make room T.J. McConnell — the Colts girls are also hoping for a trip to Duquesne.
"I hope we're both at Palumbo Center a couple Saturdays from now," said Restich, who scored 15 points Wednesday night to lead the Chartiers Valley girls to a win against Mars, 46-35, in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA basketball playoffs at Moon.
"That's alright that the boys get more attention," Restich said of the top-seeded boys team. "They're impressive. They're fun to watch."
The girls, too, have been impressive.
Chartiers Valley (19-4) has now won 18 consecutive games, stretching back to the Colts' trip to Orlando in December. Seeded fourth in the Class AAA bracket, Chartiers Valley will next play Mt. Pleasant in Saturday's quarterfinals.
Senior Elaine Hasek scored 12 of her game-high 16 points in the second half to lead Mars (13-11). Hasek helped keep the Planets' deficit to single digits until early in the fourth quarter.
"They executed the game plan to a 'T'," Mars coach Tony Howard said. "After a loss, you're usually very upset and very angry, with emotions going through you. But after tonight's game, I'm just so proud of this group of girls. There's nothing left in the tank."
Chartiers Valley is led by five seniors, including leading scorers Restich and Paige Aleski. Against Mars, though, Aleski was held scoreless until the final seconds, so Chartiers Valley leaned heavily upon Restich and freshmen Alex Coyne and Maria Wells.
"I think that speaks a lot to Paige's unselfishness," Chartiers Valley coach Spencer Stefko said. "Paige knew that wherever she went on the floor, because of the way they were guarding her, that was going to create space (for teammates). We were able to exploit that a little bit."
Said Restich: "We're diverse. We can all handle the ball, and we can all shoot. We pick each other up if someone's having an off night."
Coyne scored 13 points — all in the second half — including three 3-pointers. Wells, a strong inside presence, added seven points.
"I don't have the words to explain what those two kids have brought to us," Stefko said of the freshmen.
Chartiers Valley led, 14-8, after a low-scoring first half. Restich accelerated the tempo by scoring eight points of her points in the third quarter, but the Colts still couldn't extend their lead much. After three, Chartiers Valley led, 30-23.
Coyne began the fourth quarter with a pair of 3-pointers that helped stretch the Chartiers Valley lead to double digits, but the gap never exceeded 11 points.
"Those are the ones were would have liked to eliminated," Howard said of Coyne's baskets. "We could have handled (just) one of their girls going off."