After losing twice to Chartiers Valley in the regular season, South Fayette got revenge and upset the Colts, 57-48, in the WPIAL Class 5A Girls Championship on Saturday night at the Petersen Events Center.
Chartiers Valley’s head coach Tim McConnell is considered a legend in WPIAL basketball. They were the three-time defending WPIAL champions and have three Division 1 commits — Perri Page (Columbia), Aislin Malcolm (Pitt) and Marian Turnbull (Northeastern). However, South Fayette showcased that they have players who will be playing at major college programs someday, as well. South Fayette has four junior starters, while Chartiers Valley has senior starters across the board.
“Their team gets a lot of credit for all their players going to college, but if you look at our roster, we’re going to have a lot of players playing at the next level, too. So, I don’t think we were one bit shorthanded today,” South Fayette head coach Bryan Bennett said.
Maddie Webber led South Fayette with 17 points. Webber was 4-of-13 from the field and had a triple. Webber also was 8-of-8 from the free-throw line and had nine rebounds. Ava Leroux and Lainey Yater also scored double-digits, Leroux with 11 points and Yater had 10.
“I think she’s a very good player,” McConnell said about Webber. “Very solid, she can handle it, she can shoot it, she’s quick. She’s going to be a good college basketball player, as well.
Page led Chartiers Valley with 27 points and Aislin Malcolm was second in scoring with 15. Page was a handful for South Fayette all game, especially down low. There was just not enough secondary scoring from the Colts. Page and Malcolm combined for 42 of Chartiers Valley’s 48 points.
McConnell and Page both said after the game that South Fayette was just hungrier and played with more will.
“They just wanted it more than us,” Paige said. “They were beating us to loose balls, beating us to the 50/50 balls, out-rebounding us. It just didn’t really come together tonight.”
South Fayette shot 16-of-37 from the field and was 2-of-12 from behind the arc, while Chartiers Valley converted 18-of-47 shots and was 4-of-13 on three-point attempts. South Fayette really took advantage of Chartiers Valley’s six turnovers, as the Lions scored 15 points off the giveaways. South Fayette also dominated on the glass, outrebounding the Colts, 36-18.
After a back-and-forth first quarter, South Fayette out-scored Chartiers Valley, 20-13, in the second quarter and went into halftime with a 31-25 lead. The Lions shot 11-of-24 from the field and were 2-of-9 from behind the arc in the first half. In contrast, Chartiers Valley converted 9-of-20 shots and was 3-of-7 on three-point attempts.
South Fayette went on an 8-0 run to begin the second half and led 39-25 at the 4:00 mark of the third quarter. After getting a double-digit lead for the first time all game, South Fayette continued to control the pace and went into the fourth quarter with a 43-32 lead.
With 5:17 remaining, Chartiers Valley cut South Fayette’s lead to 46-38 and made it a three-possession game. A minute later, Paige got to the foul line but missed both foul shots. And things just went downhill from there on out for the Colts.
Down the stretch, Chartiers Valley just couldn’t make clutch shots, while South Fayette played stall ball and was efficient at the free-throw line, which propelled them to victory.
“We spend a ton of time on our foul shooting,” Bennett said. “We played Moon right after the holiday break and I think it was a three-point loss, and we were 30 percent from the line that night. That should have been a victory for us, but all credit to Moon for taking it to us on that evening. We really put a focus that if we’re shooting 30 percent from the line, we’re not going to win many basketball games. With 3:30 seconds left in the fourth, I turned and looked to my assistant and I go, ‘We got to make shots now.’ And the girls did, they went to the line with confidence and knocked them down.”
McConnell said after the game that high school basketball needs to adopt the shot clock. South Fayette started to hold onto the ball in the third quarter, but it was really noticeable when the Lions had an eight-point lead with five minutes remaining.
It wouldn’t be surprising if there’s a Part 4 of South Fayette vs. Chartiers Valley, as the two teams could meet in the state tournament.
“We know with our reputation; we are going to get everyone’s best shot. And they were fired up for us, and they came out and played from the beginning,” McConnell said.