No question Chartiers Valley and Peters Township featured some of the best basketball players in the area as they combined for undefeated seasons that featured section, district and state championships. But somebody had to blend all that talent together to produce such perfection.

At the helm, were two of the finest: Tim McConnell and Bert Kendall.

Already enshrined in the western chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, McConnell expanded his resume to include coaching girls’ basketball. After 25 years and 552 victories as the boys’ coach, McConnell moved over to girls’ bench. In his first season, he guided the Lady Colts to a 30-0 record that concluded with a PIAA title. On March 23, Char Valley defeated Archbishop Carroll, 53-40, to win the Class 5A crown.

It was McConnell’s first state banner after two unsuccessful tries on the boys’ side in 1998 and 2010. His son, T.J., now excelling for the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA, starred on that 2010 club. His daughter, Megan, played on this year’s state champion team.

“If I’d have known girls were so easy to coach, I would’ve been over here a long time ago,” McConnell joked after the state final.

But, the feat was anything but mere. After running through Section 1 with a 14-0 record, CV had to face familiar foes such as Trinity (three times) and Thomas Jefferson (four times) to reach the state finals.

Reaching high school basketball’s pinnacle after a quarter-century, McConnell vowed never to take off his state championship gold medal.

“This is something that I have dreamed about. To be a state champion,” he said. “To coach a state championship team feels great. I’m just goal-oriented and I wanted to win a state championship before I quite coaching. I am hoping to win more now that I know how it feels. This is very special.”

Although Kendall did not have to wait as long as McConnell, his state title is just as special, even predictable. After getting the post in 2013, he told his team at his first practice that, together, they were{/span} going to eventually put a WPIAL championship up on the wall.

“None of the girls believed me,” he said.

Six years hence, however, the Indians not only captured their first WPIAL banner but they secured the first state title in program history with their 62-49 win over Garnet Valley.

PT, like CV, did it the hard way. The Indians, too, had to beat their arch rival (Bethel Park) four times to achieve their dream. The Indians also needed overtime to dethrone the defending state champion, beating Upper Dublin, 51-46, the PIAA semifinals to advance to Hershey.

Also, among PT’s triumphs this season was a 64-53 win against North Catholic, which was the PIAA runner-up in the Class 4A division.

“We came into the gym this season wanting to put another section banner up on the wall but now we are looking at adding two more,” Kendall said. “With a WPIAL and state title, it has been a memorable not to mention fantastic season.”

The final footnote makes it even more incredible as Kendall and McConnell have been named Almanac Coaches of the Year for their accomplishments.

Almanac Sports Editor

An award-winning journalist, Eleanor Bailey has been employed by Observer Publishing Company since 1982. She is the sports editor at The Almanac and a contributor for the Observer-Reporter.

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