The Chartiers-Houston boys basketball team won a postseason game.
Until last Saturday, those words had never been spoken.
When Chartiers-Houston defeated Charleroi Area, 66-60, in a WPIAL Class AA preliminary-round playoff game, it wasn't just a victory. What happened on that court at Chartiers Valley High School was historic.
The Bucs had previously played in nine WPIAL playoff games, and had lost each one. But the Bucs kept battling, and in their 10th try, finally came out on top.
"Obviously, when you win your first playoff game, it's pretty significant," Chartiers-Houston coach Eugene Briggs said. "It's actually taken the last third of the season to convince them that this team could do that sort of thing."
Chartiers-Houston (17-6) had won five of its previous six games heading into Wednesday's first-round game against No. 3 seed Aliquippa (16-5) at Moon Area. This calendar year, the Bucs held a stellar 11-3 record.
A tall and talented frontcourt tandem has been one of the keys for Chartiers-Houston in recent weeks and was again in one of the biggest wins in program history. Miles Williamson, a 6-foot-4 senior forward, and 6-6 senior center Ben Shade were outstanding against Charleroi. Williamson finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Shade added 14 points and 12 rebounds. Williamson is also a standout football player who recently signed with IUP.
Two other players who shined in the win were 6-0 freshman guard A.J. Myers and 6-0 junior guard Alec Ferrari. Myers scored 18 points -- including four 3-pointers -- and did a great job defensively against Charleroi standout Matt Indorante. Ferrari dished out 11 assists and had only two turnovers.
An interesting note to the triumph was that the Bucs played without leading scorer Kodie Hanley. A 6-2 sophomore guard, Hanley missed the game -- his second in a row -- because of a lung contusion he incurred while sled riding the previous weekend. He was expected to play last night.
Briggs said his team fully understood the importance of the opening win, but he also wanted to make sure they were hungry for another. After waiting seemingly forever to win one, the Bucs hoped their next would come just four nights later.
"They do realize it's a big deal," Briggs said. "The idea is not to make it too big because you have another game to play. We had to try not to celebrate too much."
Bethel a big (under)dog
Bethel Park wore black jerseys with its school name emblazoned on the front for its WPIAL playoff opener against Fox Chapel.
Against New Castle, it might be appropriate for the Black Hawks to have a giant "U" on those uniforms -- "U" as in underdog.
Bethel Park (18-5) will meet No. 1 seed New Castle in a Class AAAA quarterfinal game Saturday at a site and time to be determined. New Castle (23-0), the only undefeated boys team in the WPIAL, is ranked No. 2 in the state and is three wins away from winning a WPIAL title for the third year in a row. New Castle is coming off an 85-66 first-round win against Greater Latrobe. That same day, No. 9 Bethel Park edged No. 8 Fox Chapel, 49-45, to earn its first postseason win since 2007.
The Red Hurricanes will challenge Bethel Park in a variety of ways. Guard-forward Malik Hooker is among the WPIAL's best players and guard Anthony Richards one of the area's top 3-point shooters. The Red Hurricanes are relentless defensively and will use their pressing, trapping style in hopes of forcing turnovers and turning those miscues into transition baskets.
New Castle averages a Class AAAA-best 75.1 points per game. Bethel Park has given up more than 66 just once this season.
Chartiers Valley's Matty McConnell and McGuffey's Sammie Weiss are standout junior guards on teams that won section championships. They also have one other thing in common -- they are this season's South Xtra area scoring champions.
McConnell led all WPIAL and City League boys players in the South Xtra area by averaging 21.8 points per game. Weiss paced all girls players in the area by scoring 23.4 points per game.
Char Valley (22-1) defeated Mount Pleasant, 95-62, in a WPIAL Class AAA first-round game Tuesday, the same night McGuffey (20-3) topped Brentwood, 77-49, in a Class AA first-round game.
McConnell's average ranked 15th among all WPIAL and City League players. Belle Vernon Area's Jason Capco (17th, 21.5 ppg) was the only other South area player in the top 30.
Weiss ranked third among all girls. Belle Vernon's Kaitlyn Slagus (fifth at 22.9) and Carrick's Chardonnay Littlejohn (eighth at 21.6) also finished in the top 10.