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Chartiers Valley girls earn 1st WPIAL title-game berth

| Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, 10:03 p.m.
Chartiers Valley’s Mariah Wells grabs a rebound in the first half of a WPIAL Class AAAA semifinal against Mt. Lebanon on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, at North Allegheny. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)

Chartiers Valley senior Mariah Wells must know how Mt. Lebanon felt year after year.

“It's like a piece of heaven,” said Wells, who scored 17 points in Tuesday's 31-27 semifinal victory over Mt. Lebanon in the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs, helping the Chartiers Valley girls earn their first title game appearance. “I've been working all four years trying to get to a championship. It's such a good feeling.”

No. 5 seed Chartiers Valley (19-6) reached the Class AAA semifinals in 2010 and '12, but those postseason runs both ended one victory short.

Wells, who scored just two second-half points, made both one-and-one free throws with 10.8 seconds left to secure the low-scoring victory over top-seeded Mt. Lebanon (22-3), which had beaten Chartiers Valley twice this season.

“Wow, they looked different tonight,” Chartiers Valley coach Spencer Stefko said of his players. “The look in their eyes before the national anthem was something I'd never seen, and I've coached them for more than 100 games. There was something there tonight.”

The loss snapped Mt. Lebanon's streak of consecutive title-game appearances at four.

“Mt. Lebanon is known for going to championships after championships after championships,” Wells said. “So, yeah, it feels good to beat them.”

Not since 2008 has the Class AAAA championship game not included Mt. Lebanon. Instead, two of the Blue Devils' Section 4 rivals will meet. Chartiers Valley will face No. 2 Bethel Park at 7 p.m. Saturday at Palumbo Center.

Like Mt. Lebanon, Bethel Park also has beaten Chartiers Valley twice this season. But that was no advantage in the playoffs.

“It's very difficult to play a team three times,” Mt. Lebanon coach Dori Oldaker said. “I really believe that when playing a team a third time, the odds are against the team that won the first two games. But hey, there's no excuse for us putting up an ‘L' tonight.”

Mt. Lebanon's shooters struggled against Chartiers Valley's zone defense. Christine Ehland scored 13 points and Margie McCaffrey had 11, but the rest of the roster combined for just three points.

“If you look at our stats, one of our starters went 0 for 11. Another went 0 for something,” Oldaker said. “It's pretty easy to tell what went wrong; we just couldn't hit our outside shots.”

Chartiers Valley led, 20-17, at halftime.

“This wouldn't feel any good if we just beat the Sisters of Charity,” Stefko said. “We just beat a great high school basketball team.”

Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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