It was fitting that the Chartiers Valley student section wore beach-themed attire Tuesday night.
Neither team on the court could throw the proverbial "beach ball into the ocean."
It turned out not to be a major problem for the Colts, who offset a rare off-shooting night by doing damage on drives to the basket and playing excellent defense on their way to a 50-46 win against visiting South Fayette.
The win vaulted Chartiers Valley (12-1, 6-0) into sole possession of first place in Class AAA Section 5, one game ahead of South Fayette (9-3, 5-1) and two in front of Montour (9-4, 4-2).
"I told our kids, 'We're in the front seat right now and everybody is behind us. This is where we want to stay,' " Chartiers Valley coach Tim McConnell said.
Despite the schools being several miles apart, this was the first time Chartiers Valley and South Fayette met in a section game. So in what wasn't a typical game, Chartiers Valley won in an uncharacteristic way.
Annually one of the most prolific 3-point-shooting teams in the WPIAL, Chartiers Valley made 3 of 22 attempts (13 percent). However, that number topped South Fayette, which finished 4 of 31 (12 percent).
"It was just a weird game," South Fayette coach Rich Bonnaure said, shaking his head.
Chartiers Valley showed they can win when the outside shot isn't falling. Credit much of that to leading scorer Michael Boulos, who continues to score off the dribble on drives to the basket. Boulos scored a game-high 19 points and made all of his team's 3-pointers.
"He's been unbelievable," McConnell said. "He's been our go-to guy. He's super quick and super athletic, and knows how to get the ball to the basket."
Added Boulos: "Whenever the 3s aren't falling, we've got guys who can drive to the basket. We find other ways to win."
After taking a 3-2 lead in the opening minutes, Chartiers Valley never trailed. South Fayette's Zach Challingsworth, a Pitt football recruit who is not yet 100 percent as he recovers from a sports hernia, made a jump shot with 3:46 left in the fourth quarter to cut Chartiers Valley's lead to 45-43.
South Fayette got the ball back with a chance to tie or take the lead, but Lucas Russell misfired on a 3-pointer. Chartiers Valley's Matty McConnell raced the other way for a layup to put the Colts ahead by four, and South Fayette got no closer.
Defensively, Chartiers Valley got a terrific effort from Haedyn Herzer, who helped limit South Fayette's leading scorer, Evan Bonnaure, to six points. Bonnaure averages more than 20 per game.
"Haedyn probably did one of the best jobs defensively I have seen," said Matty McConnell, who finished with 10 points.
Chartiers Valley center Spencer Casson scored 13 points, including 10 in the first half when he helped the Colts take a 30-23 halftime lead. C.J. Rudisill led South Fayette with 15 points, all in the second half.
The score was tied, 39-39, after three quarters, but Boulos gave the Colts the lead for good on a basket in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter.