The Chartiers Valley girls basketball team did not celebrate a second state championship in three seasons.
Instead, following a 51-27 loss to Cardinal O’Hara (15-4) in the PIAA Class 5A championship game March 27 at the Giant Center in Hershey, the Colts acknowledged their 25-4 campaign and vowed to improve upon that mark in 2022.
“I planned on celebrating at the hotel with them on a state championship,” CV head coach Tim McConnell said immediately after the defeat, “but I told them we are going to celebrate a great season, be with our families and be proud of what they accomplished.
“We will go to work from there,” he continued. “We’ll learn from it.”
The Colts learned they need to work harder, get stronger and be hungrier if they are to turn their second-place showing into a gold-medal performance when the PIAA championships are held next year.
“We talked about starting to prepare for this game again,” McConnell said. “This is going to be a game that we remember and want to get back to. Hopefully, we can do those things that make us be able to get back here and win the championship with this group.”
The Colts return all five starters in 2021-22. Aside from the state championship loss, the unit has produced some gaudy numbers: three consecutive WPIAL titles, a state-record 64 consecutive wins and an 82-4 career mark.
This winter, the Colts averaged 62.9 points per game and permitted opponents just 38.7. CV surpassed the century mark in scoring once and registered more than 80 points in five additional games.
The Colts feature two all-state performers who are committed to NCAA Division I programs in Pitt recruit Aislin Malcolm and Columbia recruit Perri Page, as well as a pair of twins, Hallie and Helene Cowan, who were all-section performers.
“I know that we are a good team,” McConnell said.
Cardinal O’Hara, though, gave CV plenty of difficulty. In fact, the Colts’ 27-point total was the fourth lowest offensive outputs in PIAA girls championship history.
The Lions pushed the Colts around and forced them out of their rhythm and style of play. CV connected on 8-of-42 shots, including 2 of 16 from beyond the 3-point arc.
“I don’t think we shot well, but I think their defense and physicality really pushed us away from the basket. We tried driving and they really muscled us away from the hoop,” McConnell said.
Page led the Colts with 10 points and nine rebounds before fouling out of the contest. Malcolm was held to seven points, 10 below her average, and Hallie Cowan was limited to four points before she too fouled out.
“We knew exactly how good they were and that they were strong and big,” McConnell said, “but they came with another level. They brought a different level.”
The Lions jumped ahead 10-0 less than three minutes into the contest. They stretched their first-quarter advantage to 17-7 and 23-7 early in the second quarter before settling into a 28-11 halftime lead.
“They played tremendous and they took us out of everything we tried to get. I thought their physicality was the difference,” McConnell said. “They were way more physical than we were.
“Give them a lot of credit,” he added. “We knew they were a good team. You don’t make it to the state championship and not be a good team.”
Cardinal O’Hara was the Philadelphia Catholic League runner-up. The Lions had been to the state finals three other times, falling to Mt. Lebanon in 2009 and Cumberland Valley in 2016.
Cardinal O’Hara featured two all-PCL performers in juniors Sydni Scott and Maggie Doogan.
Scott poured in 16 points. A guard and defensive standout, she also buried four of her team’s seven 3-point field goals.
Doogan fired in 13 points. The junior also hauled in seven rebounds, blocked five shots and stole two passes.
Siobhan Boylan also finished in double figures for the Lions, totaling 10 points. Annie Welde grabbed seven rebounds, six of them on the defensive boards. She and Amaris Baker supplied six points each to the offensive attack.
For the Colts, Abby Vaites contributed six rebounds and three points. A junior, she returns to the roster next season as do Elena Molinari, Mia Colbert, Caleigh Bogarts, Olivia Alauzen and Ella Cupka. They all saw action in the championship game.
The Colts also expect to get a boost next season with Marian Turnbull’s return to the starting line-up. A junior, Turnbull was ruled ineligible for the playoffs because of the PIAA transfer rule.