It was one of those games some people might have described as lacking in beauty, but, for Chartiers Valley senior Mariah Wells, the outcome was all that and more.
"It's just like a piece of heaven," Wells said, grinning from ear to ear.
Wells scored a game-high 17 points and Chartiers Valley, which lost in the semifinals two of the past three seasons, advanced to its first WPIAL championship by defeating No. 1 seed and defending champion Mt. Lebanon, 31-27, in a Class AAAA semifinal Tuesday night at North Allegheny.
After the fifth-seeded Colts (19-6) beat one Section 4 team that defeated them twice in the regular season, they must face another Saturday at A.J. Palumbo Center after Bethel Park advanced to the final by edging Gateway in the other semifinal.
"Those seniors were [in the semifinals] before and weren't able to get it done, but [Tuesday night] they had a look in their eyes I had never seen before," Chartiers Valley coach Spencer Stefko said.
Mt. Lebanon (22-3) had its 15-game winning streak snapped and was denied reaching its fifth consecutive final. The Blue Devils won three of the past four Class AAAA championships.
Chartiers Valley won the game because of its defense. Mt. Lebanon shot 9 of 42 (21 percent) from the field and was held to its lowest point total this season. Mt. Lebanon made three field goals and scored 10 points in the second half, a crucial factor for Chartiers Valley, which itself made three field goals and scored 11 points in the second half.
Mt. Lebanon never led, but stayed within six points throughout. Jordan Holmes scored on a put-back with 21 seconds remaining to bring Mt. Lebanon within two (29-27).
Wells was then fouled and made two clinching free throws with 10 seconds left.
Wells was the only Chartiers Valley scoring in double figures. She had 11 points in the first quarter and had 15 by halftime, when the Colts led, 20-17.
Christine Ehland led Mt. Lebanon with 13 points, and Margie McCaffrey added 11.
Mt. Lebanon defeated Chartiers Valley in the regular season, 48-45 and 49-40, but not this time.
"It's very difficult to play a team three times," Mt. Lebanon coach Dori Oldaker said.
"I really believe that when playing a team a third time, the odds are against the team that won the first two games.
"But, hey, there's no excuse for us putting up an 'L.' "
Led by its defense, Bethel Park will be head to the title game for only the second time
The No. 3 Black Hawks (22-3) held No. 7 Gateway (20-5) to a season-low point total in earning a 36-28 victory at Keystone Oaks.
"Just pressure defense, I guess," Bethel Park coach Jonna Burke said. "It's something we've relied on all season long, and the kids believe in it.
"[Tuesday night], it came through for us again."
Bethel Park entered the game with the No. 2 scoring defense in Class AAAA and relied on it while leading scorer Megan Marecic struggled to find her shot.
Marecic didn't score her first point until 6:35 in the third quarter. She finished with six points on 2-of-14 shooting.
But Sami Simpson and Harper Zimmer stepped up.
Both players each had 11 points and combined to score 14 of the team's 18 first-half points as the Black Hawks led by four at the intermission.
Bethel Park extended the lead to as much as 10 points with three minutes to play in the fourth quarter before Gateway went on a run to get as close as four with 1:47 left.
The Black Hawks will play in the WPIAL championship for the first time since 2005, when they lost to Oakland Catholic.
Ryan Riordan of Tri-State Sports & News Service contributed to this report.