Spencer Casson is a 6-foot-6 senior on Chartiers Valley's boys basketball team. To Johnstown, he must have seemed 8-6.
Johnstown starts two players 5-4 and one 5-9. Everyone on Johnstown's team looked up at Casson -- and he brought the Trojans down. Casson stood in the middle of Chartiers Valley's defense and had a block party, swatting shot after shot.
And Casson rebounded. And he scored. When he was done, he had a triple-double and led Chartiers Valley to a 65-38 victory in a PIAA Class AAA second-round game at Hempfield.
Casson finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks and helped push Chartiers Valley (24-4) into the PIAA quarterfinals for the seventh time in 18 seasons. The Colts, the WPIAL runner-up, will play Friday against Archbishop Carroll (21-6), the No. 4 team from District 12. Meanwhile, Johnstown's season had bookend losses to WPIAL teams. The Trojans (16-8) started the season with a 57-33 loss to Mt. Lebanon.
"He was the big difference," coach Tim McConnell said of Casson. "But he's had a great year for us and he's really coming into his own. He's had a double-double in every game and a few triple-doubles, too."
Johnstown had 6-5 Roshon Fields, but he was not a factor with Casson around. Often times in the first half, Johnstown's guards took the ball at Casson and tried to shoot over him. Often times, those shots went off one of Casson's mitts.
"I was a little surprised they kept going at him," McConnell said.
Johnstown coach Neil Cobaugh said, "We wanted to try and get him in foul trouble. I thought we got some on him early and they didn't call the fouls. That changes your game plan. Guys stopped attacking like we wanted them to."
Senior guard Michael Boulos led Chartiers Valley with 19 points and sophomore Matty McConnell, son of the coach, added 18. Phillip Madison led Johnstown with eight points.
While Casson made an impact with his shot-blocking, Chartiers Valley's full-court pressure destroyed Johnstown's rhythm, forcing 13 turnovers in the first half when the Colts opened up a 22-point lead. Chartiers Valley led at halftime, 34-14.
For Johnstown, the only good part of the game was the first 2:20. That's when Johnstown had a 4-0 lead. Then Chartiers Valley scored the next 19 points to take a 19-4 lead with 1:16 left in the quarter.
"The first half of the first [PIAA] game, we weren't over that loss," Tim McConnell said of the loss to Montour in the WPIAL title game. "We played so well in the first half of the WPIAL championship game. To play that bad in the second half, it hurt. I think we still showed a little effect in that first [PIAA] game, but we're in the elite eight of the state now, so we're pretty excited."