The shadow can stretch across the country, from Arizona to the Pittsburgh area. And Tuesday night, Matty McConnell was in it again.
When McConnell would step to the free-throw line, the Montour student section sometimes chanted "T.J.'s better ... T.J.'s better."
Matty McConnell's response? Thirty-two points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals.
McConnell is a junior guard at Chartiers Valley and the younger brother of T.J. McConnell, the starting point guard for the University of Arizona, the No. 1-ranked college team in the country. T.J. was featured in a Sports Illustrated article last week. He is praised on national television. He left behind a legacy at Chartiers Valley.
Matty McConnell has done a terrific job of making a name for himself and pushing himself into the spotlight. A 6-foot guard, he has turned into one of the top juniors in the WPIAL, averaging 19.9 points and 8.5 rebounds a game.
"T.J. is his biggest supporter. They cheer each other on," said Tim McConnell, the father of the two boys and Chartiers Valley's coach. "There's not one bad thing about the way Matty plays or being compared to T.J. He hears it all the time and takes it in stride. Matty is very proud of T.J. and there is no pressure to live up to T.J because Matty does his own thing."
Dad will talk about the strengths of his two sons, but said you really can't compare the two because they play differently -- and are built differently. Matty is much bigger and stronger than T.J. was at this age. Matty is 180 pounds.
"When Duquesne offered T.J. a scholarship, he was maybe 5-7 and 140 pounds at the most," Tim McConnell said. "T.J. was more of a pure shooter and would steal the ball. Matty is more of a banger.
"I see some similarities between the two as far as a knack for the ball. But when you see Matty go up on the glass and get rebound after rebound, that is something that Matty does a lot better than T.J. did. But they're totally different players."
Saint Francis came to watch Matty McConnell play recently.
"I don't know what level Matty can play at in college," Tim McConnell said. "When T.J. was a sophomore and took a scholarship from Duquesne, I wasn't sure he could play at that level. Now look at him. I have no idea what level Matty can play. He still has the rest of this year and next year."
But there is one more of Tim and Shelly McConnell's kids who you might see on WPIAL courts someday. But this one is a girl. Megan McConnell is in sixth grade.
"She might end up being better than both of my boys," Tim McConnell said.
Three for 1,000
It is highly unusual for a WPIAL team to have three 1,000-point scorers on the same team. So, put Lincoln Park in the unusual status.
Senior forward Ryan Skovranko scored his 1,000th career point in December. Sophomore guard Maverick Rowan scored his 1,000th Friday and senior forward Elijah Minnie hit the milestone a day later.
The WPIAL doesn't have records to prove it, but Lincoln Park could be the first WPIAL team to have three 1,000-point scorers on the same team since Sto-Rox in 2004. That year, Sto-Rox had Adam DiMichele, John Geiger and Davon Huger.
A few other teams in the past 20 years to have three 1,000-point scorers were Uniontown in 2002 (Terrance Vaughns, Chris Jacobs and Dierre Jenkins) and New Castle in 1999 (David Young, Ed Pagley and Desmond Whetzel).
What is unusual about Lincoln Park's trio is that Rowan is only a sophomore. He reached 1,000 points quicker than just about any player in WPIAL history. Rowan reached the milestone in the 44th game of his career as a sophomore. In 1991, Valley Tom Pipkins scored his 1,000th point in his 42nd career game as a sophomore.
Pipkins finished his career as the WPIAL's all-time leading scorer with 2,838 points. Rowan could finish his sophomore season with more points than Pipkins had -- 1,176 -- after his 10th-grade season. Rowan has scored 1,094 points going into tonight's game against Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.
Pipkins went on to play at Duquesne University. Rowan already has made a verbal commitment to Pitt.
Freshman to watch
With standout guard Elijah Cottrill likely done for the season because of a knee injury, Beaver Falls has looked for points from other sources. A freshman is coming through for the Tigers.
Donovan Jeter, a 6-foot-5 ninth-grader, has scored at least 12 points in seven of the past nine games, including 31 last Friday against Riverside. Jeter is the younger brother of former Beaver Falls star Sheldon Jeter, who is attending a junior college in Florida, but will play for Pitt next season.
Memorable parent quote
Just about any high school coach who has been around for a while has some memorable parent stories. Joe Dunn coached boys basketball teams at Trinity, Mount Pleasant and Seton-LaSalle for 26 seasons before he resigned in 2012. He was telling some stories the other day when he remembered a good parent line.
"It was a mother who wanted to discuss the potential of her son when she said to me, 'You know he has NBA feet, don't you?' With discretion being the better part of valor, I just ended the conversation right there. I still have a team of experts working to figure out what that one meant."