Chartiers Valley basketball preparing for jump to AAAA
A lot has changed for the Chartiers Valley boys basketball team since last season.
The Colts are making the jump to Class AAAA from AAA, a switch the team typically goes through every two years due to WPIAL realignment. The jump will become even more channeling as Chartiers Valley returns only one starter and two seniors.
Despite the turnover and bigger competition, the goals remain the same for Chartiers Valley.
“We’re not going to change it,” coach Tim McConnell said. “Ever year we are going to try to be section champions, we want to be WPIAL champions and we want to be state champions. Its what we strive for every day.”
The only returning starter is senior guard Matty McConnell. The Robert Morris commit averaged 21.8 points, 8.9 assists, 5.1 steals and 4.5 assist as a junior.
The only other senior on the team is Jake Ritson. While the guard didn’t receive many minutes last year, he will be a crucial part of the team this season.
“Not all the weight will be on my shoulders,” Matty McConnell said. “Most of the guys on the team will be looking up to me and (Ritson). We know the other guys on the team will step up.”
Junior Eddie Flohr was a top bench player for the Colts last season, averaging 8.9 points with 2.2 assists per game.
“He is our Energizer Bunny,” Tim McConnell said. “He is a guy that continues to go for us. He could have started last year but we had some senior experience. He will play the point for us. He’ll play the two guard. I am just glad he is playing for us.”
Sophomore Ross Wilkerson made 35 3-pointers last season – third most for the Colts.
“His stroke is so pretty,” Coach McConnell said. “He can really shoot it. He is learning to play defense and his entire game is coming along.”
McConnell added the team will work in several underclassmen into the rotation, including sophomores Coleman Vaughn and Nick Jessloski and freshman Ray Olkosky, as depth is a major concern for the Colts.
While inexperienced to varsity play, the players said years of playing together in the developmental leagues at Chartiers Valley will have the team ready to go when the season tips off.
“We all have been playing together for years,” Flohr said. “(McConnell) and I have been playing together since we were in the second grade. We know where each other will be every time we are on the court.”
The team lacks a big man presence with the average height of the team being around 6-foot. While the team lacks height, the team is able to burn teams with its speed and shooting.
“We are going to be able to score a lot of fast-break points,” Ritson said. “We will have five shooters on the court all the time so teams will need to work hard to guard us.”
The Colts will jump into a loaded Section 4-AAAA this season, which will also feature Baldwin, Bethel park, Canon-McMillan, Moon, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township and Upper St. Clair. While the larger schools often leads to facing larger opponents, Chartiers Valley is looking forward to the challenge.
“It is always a lot of fun when we go up against those teams,” Flohr said. “There are some good rivalries. A lot of the people come to the games and it is always packed.”
The Colts have reached the WPIAL title game four times since 2010 but have only won a single championship.
This season, second place won’t be enough.
“The firs day of practice I sent out a group text to the team saying I am not taking anything less than first place,” Matty McConnell said. “We are going to do whatever it takes to get down to the Peterson Event Center to play for the title.”
The Colts starts the season on Dec. 5 as they take on Franklin Regional at the Upper St. Clair Tournament at 6 p.m.