Turnovers cost Chartiers Valley in WPIAL title game
The Chartiers Valley boys basketball team rode a wave of momentum in the opening half against Montour in the WPIAL Class AAA title game, building a double-digit lead.
But the second half was all Spartans as they battled back for the 47-40 win.
“It hurts,” Chartiers Valley coach Tim McConnell said. “We only scored 11 points in the second half. (Devin) Wilson took over, and we turned the ball over way too much.”
The Spartans came back from as many as 13 points.
Spencer Casson started the game with a dunk to give the Colts a lead they did not surrender in the first half. The 6-foot-6 center was the catalyst for the Colts' first-half success, scoring 14 points — 10 in the first quarter.
With three minutes to go before the half, Hayden Herzer connected on a 3-pointer to give the Colts a 29-16 lead — their largest of the game. The Spartans started to show life late in the half, going on a 4-0 run heading into the break.
It was all Montour when the teams came out for the third period. The Spartans were led by Wilson's six points as they cut the lead to 33-32, holding the Colts to four points in the third.
A Justin Hill basket with 6:01 to go gave the Spartans their first lead of the night at 35-34. Montour got the lead for good four minutes later as Kevin Scuilli connected on a pair of 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to give his squad a 42-38 advantage with two minutes to play.
A Michael Boulos layup cut the lead to two, but Montour held on as Wilson and Hill combined for six free throws in the final 30 seconds.
“We just turned it over,” McConnell said. “We turned it over way too much and gave them opportunities to get back in it.”
Casson was the difference maker early for Chartiers Valley, scoring 14 points in the paint. But the Spartans were able to adjust to the Colts' big man by double teaming and putting 6-4 forward Dustin Sileva on Casson constantly. Casson was held to four points in the second half.
“We couldn't get the ball inside to him,” McConnell said. “We weren't throwing it high enough. They started doubling (Casson). We were not effective in the paint. We stopped penetrating.”
Chartiers Valley's usually lethal shooting was off against Montour as the Colts went 0 for 9 from behind the arc in the second half.
The 40 points tied a season low for the Colts set on Jan. 29 in a 51-40 loss to Montour.
Casson finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Boulos added 12 points.
Wilson led Montour with 19 points and seven rebounds.
Chartiers Valley picked up wins over Knoch, 77-43, South Fayette, 67-62, and Beaver, 68-43, en route to the championship game.
The Colts will face District 10's Strong Vincent in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs.
The Colonels enter the game with a 14-11 record and average 62 points.
Senior guard Malquan Pullium leads Strong Vincent in points per game with 16.2.
Senior forward Demarcus Cleckley averages 9.5 points along with eight rebounds, and senior guard Brandon Coleman adds 8.7 points per game.
“We will take two days off and then go back to the drawing boards and get ready to play,” McConnell said.
Tipoff in the first-round game is set for 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, Friday, at Baldwin.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.