Bethel Park too much for Lady Colts in WPIAL title game
Chartiers Valley girls basketball coach Spencer Stefko wasn't making any excuses after the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game — his squad simply got beat.
“I think Bethel Park did a great job,” Stefko said. “I give them all the credit in the world. They did a great job defending us and did a good job of keeping their spacing on offense. They moved the ball well. They handled some of the other thing we threw at them.
“They earned a gold medal tonight.”
Chartiers Valley fell to Bethel Park, 48-34, at Palumbo Center in the championship game. It was the third time the Colts fell to their Section 4-AAAA rival this season — the Colts suffered 37-36 and 46-33 setbacks during the regular season.
Bethel Park's Samantha Simpson scored a basket in the paint on the Blackhawks' first possession, and they would never look back. Bethel Park outscored Chartiers Valley, 6-1, over the final three minutes of the first quarter to grab a 12-6 lead.
“We certainly wish that would have went the other way,” Stefko said. “We have played from behind before, but they kept us from doing some of the things we do. They kept turnovers to a minimum and prevented us from going on runs. We didn't get wide-open looks. They were contested looks, and that's what they do. That is why they are wearing gold medals.”
The Colts were able to slow the Bethel Park scoring in the second quarter, and a Jenna Devinney 3-pointer pulled Chartiers Valley to within five but Bethel Park extended its lead to nine heading into halftime.
Alexa Golden connected on a driving layup early in the second half to pull the Colts to within five again, but it was the closest they came the rest of the game. A Paige Kochka-Pusker free throw at 2:56 gave the Blackhawks a nine-point lead to carry into the fourth quarter.
Devinney hit another 3-pointer at the 2:51 mark cut the score to 36-29, but Bethel Park made 12 free throws in the final two minutes to keep Chartiers Valley at bay.
“I told the players I was proud of their effort,” Stefko said. “They did everything they were asked to the best of their ability. They should keep their heads up high.”
The Lady Colts will need to have a short-term memory as they still have the PIAA playoffs ahead of them. Chartiers Valley has had success in past state tournaments, reaching the semifinals in both 2010 and 2012.
“We have made deep runs before without being district champ,” Stefko said. “Sometimes that can be a blessing. You go into it a littler hungry.
“My kids are not good losers. They will go home, kick the dog and get back after it. That is something that will serve us well in the state tournament.”
Chartiers Valley will face Allderdice Dragons (12-13) in the first game of the PIAA tournament.
Allderdice fell to Westinghouse, 54-42, in the City League championship game Feb. 23.
The Lady Colts will need to stop two Dragons if they hope to move on in the tournament. The first is senior guard Sydnee Abernathy, who averages 22.3 points and 6.9 assists and rebounds.
The other is senior guard Sierra Fordham, who averages 21.9 points. The only other player averaging more than five points is senior forward Brandy Pickett with seven.
Tipoff for the first-round game is 6 p.m. tomorrow, Friday, at Carrick.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.