Chartiers Valley boys basketball using summer league to prepare for jump to AAAA
It might only be the summer but the Chartiers Valley boys basketball team looks to be in mid-season form.
The Colts have jumped out to a perfect record in the Pittsburgh Basketball Club summer league, including a 103-40 win over defending WPIAL Class AAA champion Central Valley last week. The Warriors captured the title with a 70-69 double-overtime win over Chartiers Valley in the WPIAL finals in February.
The Colts have also recorded wins over West Allegheny and Moon in games held weekly at Montour High School.
While the season is still six months away, coach Tim McConnell expressed the importance of his team continuing its work during the offseason.
“The other thing we are doing is a lot of workouts in the gym and weight lifting,” the longtime Chartiers Valley coach said. “These guys are a bunch of gym rats. They are dedicated to getting to know each other and how we're playing to develop our chemistry.”
The summer league will help several younger players get up to speed as they try to replace three graduates in Jerad Tuite, Hayden Herzer and Kyle Westover. The trio combined for 25.7 of Chartiers Valley's 73.3 points per game average last season.
Leading the charge will be senior Matty McConnell. The 1,000-point scorer has drawn interest from Division I programs such as Robert Morris, St. Francis and Youngstown State after he averaged 21.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, 5.1 steals and 4.5 assists per game last season.
He will be one of only two seniors next season with Jake Ritson.
“(Ritson) has had some other commitments with baseball this summer,” McConnell said. “But he has been coming and playing really well for us when he can make it.”
Junior Eddie Flohr is expected to make a major impact with the team. Coming off the bench last season, McConnell said the guard could have started at a lot of programs.
“For his size, he is so wiry and strong,” McConnell said. “He is so fast. He is looking really good.”
Fellow junior Joe Antonucci averaged 6.5 points per game last season and has been dedicated to getting better during the offseason.
“He has been getting in the weight room and playing physical,” McConnell said. “I like the work and dedication the players are putting forth. It is paying off on the floor.”
Ross Wilkerson had limited time of the bench as a freshman but provided a spark for the Colts. He averaged 5.2 points per game but hit 41 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. His 35 3-pointers was behind only Matty McConnell's 72 and Tuite's 53.
“He will be a starter,” McConnell said. “I love his shot. He has a great pull-up, good form and a good handle. He is only getting better. I am excited about (Wilkerson) for the next three years.”
A pair of sophomore guards in Coleman Vaughn and Nick Jessloski are both expected to provide Chartiers Valley with depth.
The Colts will lack a true big-man presence but that has not been a problem in the past. The team had only a handful of players who stood above the 6-foot mark last season and were able to score 73.3 points on average, behind only Uniontown's 74 in Class AAA. Fans should expect more of the same next season.
“I know we're not big but I am really excited about our speed,” McConnell said. “I like how we shoot and get up and down the floor. It has been a real pleasure to watch this summer.”
The Colts will need to play to their talents as they step up to Class AAAA next season. They will join Section 4 and compete against Baldwin, Bethel Park, Canon McMillan, Moon, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township and Upper St. Clair.
While Chartiers Valley may have reached two straight WPIAL Class AAA title games, McConnell knows his team will need extra effort if it wants the same success in AAAA.
“The biggest thing we will need to overcome is size,” McConnell said. “The schools we will play have more numbers so they have bigger kids. But is a good challenge and I am looking forward to it.
“It is a tough section but it is so very good rivalries for us.”