Chartiers Valley rallies past South Fayette in WPIAL quarterfinals
Making a comeback in the playoff atmosphere can be too much for some basketball teams.
Trying to rally against a talented team in front of a large crowd on a foreign court can cause a team to crack and see its season come to an end.
The Chartiers Valley boys basketball team had to rally last week — twice.
The Colts came back from deficits as high as 12 points to defeat South Fayette, 67-62, in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
“It showed there is no quit in our guys,” Chartiers Valley coach Tim McConnell said.
South Fayette controlled the first half, building a lead that went as high as nine points. Chartiers Valley cut the deficit to four late after senior Spencer Casson hit a basket and Boulos stole the inbound pass, hitting two free throws to send the Colts into halftime down, 35-30.
“We looked slow in the first half,” McConnell said. “I told my assistant we looked tired at halftime.
“And I was hoping that wasn't the case, because we don't go real hard this time of year.”
Boulos showed his ability to hit clutch shots, nailing a 3-pointer with a foul shot with 22 seconds left in the third, and hit another 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the Lions' lead to 47-46.
“I have never made shots like that,” Boulos said. “It was an in-the-moment kind of thing.”
South Fayette opened the second half with a 7-0 run and built the lead to nine when Nick McKee hit a 3-pointer with 5:15 left in the game. But from that point on, the Colts outscored the Lions, 18-4, over the final five minutes to grab the win from their section rival.
“I have to admit, when they built the lead again, I was nervous,” McConnell said. “But I knew there was a lot of time left. They key was when Dom Costello got a steal and went coast to coast to tie it up.”
The run was topped off by clutch foul shooting in the fourth quarter from Matty McConnell (eight of eight) and Costello (three of four).
“We never really got panicked,” Matty McConnell said. “Once we were down, we believed we could make a run. And when we went down again, we believed even more. I will never give up on this team.”
Boulos led the Colts with 20 points. Matty McConnell added 19 points — including going nine for nine at the foul line.
It was the third win for Chartiers Valley over South Fayette this season. The Colts defeated the Lions, 50-46, on Jan. 15 and 60-43 on Feb. 8.
As much satisfaction the win over Lions brought to the team, it knows it still has work to do.
“Our coach always tells us to live it up tonight, because we go back to work tomorrow,” Boulos said.
Chartiers Valley faced Beaver in the semifinals Tuesday. Results were unavailable at press time.
The appearance in the WPIAL final four qualifies the Colts for the PIAA tournament.
The appearance by the Colts in the WPIAL semifinals is the fifth time in six seasons.
The last time the Colts were in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals was the 2009-10 season, when T.J. McConnell led the Colts past West Allegheny en route to the WPIAL title.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.