Golden leads Char Valley past Mt. Lebanon
Chartiers Valley girls basketball coach Spencer Stefko knew the odds were stacked against his team when it faced Mt. Lebanon in the PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinals
The Colts were without two of their starters and leading scorers as both senior Mariah Wells, who scored 17 points in the Colts' 31-27 WPIAL semifinal upset of the Blue Devils, and junior Jenna Devinney both watched from the bench. Plus, Mt. Lebanon defeated Chartiers Valley twice during the regular season by combined 97-85.
“I don't think anyone outside of our locker room gave us a puncher's chance,” Stefko said. “I know if I was outside the locker room I wouldn't have bought a ticket because it was an obvious blowout. The kids in the locker room are different though.”
The Colts didn't let the odds bother them as they defeated the Blue Devils, 48-37, to reach their third PIAA semifinal in four years.
“All the stuff leading up to the game made us stronger,” senior guard Kassidy O'Keefe said. “It brought us together as a team.”
Chartiers Valley trailed, 9-8, after the first quarter but took control in the second after a pair of Kristina Coyne free throws put the Colts up, 15-13. The Colts would not surrender the lead the rest of the game.
Chartiers Valley suffered a setback in the third quarter when forward Kristin McGeough picked up her fourth foul. The 6-foot-3 junior had been a force in the paint, scoring nine points for the Colts.
But that's when Alexa Golden took over. The sophomore scored 20 points in the second half to keep her team on top.
“I have been coaching her since she was in sixth grade, so I saw some of that but never on this stage,” Stefko said. “I guess if you have an Alexa Golden on the team you have a shot.”
Mt. Lebanon was able to cut the deficit from 36-29 to only three points after Christine Ehland was fouled and Chartiers Valley was issued a technical for not getting a substitute into the game quick enough — the first technical Stefko said he has gotten in seven years leading the Colts.
“It looked like it would turn momentum,” Stefko said. “You would need a special group of kids to not let it get to them. I guess it proves I have the most special kids you could possibly ask for.”
The three-point deficit was as close as Mt. Lebanon would get the rest of the game. Chartiers Valley finished the game on a 9-2 run to hold on.
Golden led all scorers with 23. Coyne added 10. The offensive production came as a bit of a surprise to Stefko; his team called its own plays on the court.
“If you watch the film, that doesn't look like us,” Stefko said. “The kids were playing with instinct. (Golden) and (O'Keefe) were calling the plays with the help of (Coyne).”
Ehland led the Blue Devils with 16 points. It was the second straight season Mt. Lebanon lost in the PIAA quarterfinals.
“It's painful,” Mt. Lebanon coach Dori Oldaker said. “We are still so proud of what they accomplished, but they don't want to hear that. They are devastated and shocked.”