Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Char Valley Savors Memorable Season

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Char Valley Savors Memorable Season

Article excerpt

As Chartiers Valley High School girls basketball coach Spencer Stefko reviews the 25-4 record the Colts compiled this season, falling in the PIAA Class AAA semifinals, 42-37, to eventual state champion Archbishop Wood of Philadelphia, he is struck by his team's resilience in a season that featured a spotless 10-0 run against competitors in Section 5-AAA.

"That was one of the calling cards of this team despite losing four starters from last year's team either to graduation or kids moving away," said Stefko, who completed his sixth year as Chartiers Valley's head coach.

"You couldn't have expected the type of season we had with the good players that we'd had [last year] leaving," he said. "But we were in every game this year, and we were [fielding] a team without a single senior starting."

There were plenty of satisfying moments for the Colts. But the emphasis on playing twice a season against Class AAA teams such as South Fayette, Montour, Trinity, McGuffey and West Allegheny is in the rearview mirror.

Next season, Chartiers Valley will join Section 4-AAAA, which features 2012 playoff teams Baldwin, Bethel Park, Upper St. Clair and Mt. Lebanon, which has won three of the past four PIAA Class AAAA girls basketball championships.

"What we're doing is like going from a regular class to an [advanced placement] class," Stefko said. "It's not like we're easing into a section. There are no nights off in that section. We're going to have to get better, or we're going to get smacked around. If we don't get better, we're not going to make the playoffs."

There is reason for some optimism: The Colts expect to return all five starters next season.

Mariah Wells, a 5-foot-9 junior swing player, averaged 11 points and seven rebounds a game this season. Kassidy O'Keefe, a 5-7 sophomore guard, averaged 10 points a game, as did Jenna Devinney, a 5-7 sophomore guard. Kristina Coyne, a 6-0 junior swing player, was next with 8 points, 8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks a game, and 5-8 freshman swing player Alexa Golden, averaged 7 points and 2.5 blocks a game.

"When [Golden] first started playing, her breath smelled like [baby formula] Similac," Stefko joked. …

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