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McConnell returns from injury, leads Chartiers Valley

| Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, 10:27 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Chartiers Valley's Joe Antonucci (left) steals the ball from Montour's Dustin Sleva during their game Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, at Chartiers Valley High School in Collier.

Chartiers Valley's Matty McConnell had 32 points, including 17 in the third quarter of Friday night's 74-59 victory over Section 5-AAA rival Montour. It was the first game in two weeks for McConnell, who underwent an appendectomy Dec. 19.

“I thought I was going to be tired, but I didn't feel tired at all,” said McConnell, who wasn't cleared to play until a 3 p.m. doctor's appointment. “I was surprised when I didn't have any rust.”

The junior guard had four of his five 3-pointers in the third, when his only missed shot was a free throw. The Colts led 35-27 at halftime but started the fourth quarter with a 19-point lead.

“We weren't sure he was going to play,” said Tim McConnell, his father and CV's coach. “He's still a little bit sore, but it was his decision. ... I know my son. He wants to go. There's no keeping him out.”

The game-winning effort from his son was more than even his dad anticipated.

“He was a lot better than I expected,” Tim McConnell said. “He was moving and in there banging around. I didn't know if he'd be tentative.”

The surgery cost McConnell three games, including his team's lone loss this season, 57-46 to Ambridge. He played Dec. 17 but woke the next morning feeling ill. He left school early that day and visited the hospital Dec. 19.

“It was so swollen, and it was lacerated and leaking out a little bit,” Tim McConnell said. “If it had burst, it would have been a lot more severe.”

This was a rematch of last season's WPIAL Class AAA championship, which Montour won 47-40. Graduation removed notables from both lineups, but it remains an important matchup for No. 2 Chartiers Valley (8-1, 4-0) and No. 5 Montour (5-3, 2-1).

With a pressing defense and an up-tempo attack, Chartiers Valley forced 23 turnovers and made Montour play at a pace faster than normal.

“We don't practice that way, (and) we don't play a lot of games at that pace,” Montour coach Adam Kaufmann said, “so absolutely, we played into their hands. We don't play in the 80s or 70s.”

Protecting a double-digit lead, CV didn't attempt a field goal in the fourth quarter, forcing Montour to foul.

Dustin Sleva had 25 points for Montour, and Kyle Kutchman had 14.

Haedyn Herzer had 14 for Chartiers Valley.

Chartiers Valley led 35-27 at halftime. McConnell had eight first-half points for the Colts, who needed just four minutes to build a big lead.

Tied 2-2, Chartiers Valley scored the next 11 points. When sophomore Eddie Flohr scored with 4:35 left in the first quarter, the Colts led 13-2. Montour went more than three minutes without a point.

With its lead down to five, Chartiers Valley went on a 14-2 run in the second quarter.

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

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