Two weeks ago, the Chartiers Valley boys basketball team went down to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. Fla., and beat teams from New York, Colorado and Alaska at the KSA Classic Tournament.
But the Colts (7-0, 2-0 in Section 5-AAA) paid a price for their success.
In Chartiers Valley's final game in Orlando against Anchorage Christian (Alaska) on Dec. 15, starting point guard Jerrad Tuite was clipped from behind on a fastbreak and fractured his kneecap. Tuite, a 5-foot-9 junior, is out for the season.
"He was playing so steady," Chartiers Valley coach Tim McConnell said. "He was doing a great job running our team."
McConnell said the team hasn't changed the way it plays without Tuite, so other players have had to step up.
Haedyn Herzer, a 5-8 junior guard, Matty McConnell, a 5-11 sophomore guard and the coach's son, and Mike Boulos, a 5-10 senior guard, have all played some point guard in recent wins last week against Waynsburg Central and McGuffey. The trio combined for 41 points Friday against the Highlanders.
Boulos has been playing at a high level all season for the Colts. He was named the MVP of the season-opening Upper St. Clair Tournament, scored 64 points in three games in Orlando and poured in 39 in two games last week. Boulos, who led the Colts' football team in rushing each of the past two seasons, is averaging 19.6 points per game.
"Mike has been tremendous," coach McConnell said. "I'm just glad he's on our team."
The Colts are second among all WPIAL teams in scoring with 77.6 points per game and rank first in Class AAA.
Chartiers Valley is strong defensively, too. There are only five other teams in WPIAL Class AAA that have allowed fewer points per game.
One of the main reasons for the team's defensive success is 6-6 center Spencer Casson. Casson blocked 12 shots in posting a triple-double against Eaglecrest (Colo.) in the KSA Classic Tournament.
"He has this uncanny knack for blocking shots," McConnell said. "And when he blocks the shots, he doesn't send them out of bounds. He keeps them in play."
With its undefeated record and average scoring margin of 29.6 points per game, the Colts are currently the No. 1-ranked team in the district in Class AAA by the Post-Gazette.
Chartiers Valley is back in Class AAA for the first time since the 2009-10 season, when it won the WPIAL title. The Colts had gone 40-10 in Class AAAA the past two years and made it to the district final in 2011.
Last season's team went 20-2 in the regular season and earned the No. 2 seed in the WPIAL tournament, but fell to Butler Area in the first round on a last-second shot.
The team lost Wayne Capers and Christian Kuntz from last season's strong team, but returning players have shown they are still one of the best teams in the area.
"Every team is different in its own way," McConnell said. "With Spencer back there, we are playing really well defensively.
"Last year, we were really athletic. This year's team might not be as athletic, but I think we're a better shooting team."
Back in Class AAA this year, the Colts are competing with some familiar rivals in Section 5-AAA.
The Colts toughest competition figures to come from Montour and South Fayette, but other section combatants such as Keystone Oaks, South Park, McGuffey and Waynesburg Central will battle for the section's fourth WPIAL playoff berth.
First Published December 27, 2012 5:00 AM