Central Valley squeaks out 70-69 double-OT victory over Chartiers Valley for WPIAL boys AAA title

Tony Gates saved all of his points for the overtimes, and the most important came with less than a second left.

Gates, a senior forward for Central Valley High School, made 1 of 2 free throws with 0.6 seconds left to give the Warriors a 70-69, double-overtime victory against Chartiers Valley Friday night in the WPIAL Class AAA title game at Palumbo Center.

This was a WPIAL classic, and Gates turned into the hero after going scoreless through regulation. With the score tied and the clock running down — and with three Central Valley starters on the bench after fouling out — Gates drove to the basket and was fouled while attempting a layup. He swished the first attempt and missed the second, but it didn’t matter.

Central Valley 70, Chartiers Valley 69

Central Valley defeats Chartiers Valley 70-69 in double-OT victory for WPIAL boys AAA title. (Video by Andrew Rush; 2/28/14)

Gates finished with seven points, all in the two overtimes, and Central Valley (22-3) turned into a basketball champion for the first time in its four-year existence. It was the second consecutive year Chartiers Valley (24-2) lost in the title game. It also was the second time Chartiers Valley lost in the title game in double overtime. In 2007, West Allegheny beat the Colts in double overtime. Chartiers Valley was trying to win its sixth WPIAL title under coach Tim McConnell.

Chartiers Valley tied the score, 69-69, on a nifty left-handed layup by Matty McConnell with 49 seconds left. Central Valley held the ball and called a timeout with 10.8 seconds left. Gates took the ball and drove down the left-hand side of the key and attempted a layup. A blocking foul was called on Chartiers Valley as Gates fell to the floor in traffic.

“When I drove, I got past Matt McConnell and I just shot the ball,” Gates said. “Everyone started screaming, and I thought I finished the play and got an ‘and one.’ But it was just a blocking foul.”

Tim McConnell said of the last play, “I have to look at it on film. But I hate that the game was decided with six-tenths of a second left on a charge or block call. … It’s one of the toughest losses I’ve ever been involved with.”

After the call, Gates stepped to the line, the same way he did late in the first game this season.

“We ran the same play in that first game, just cleared out and he went to the basket and got fouled,” Central Valley coach Brandon Ambrose said. “He made both shots that time [in a 55-53 victory against Damascus, Md.].”

For Gates, his pretend game became real.

“During the offseason, I would actually practice free throws and pretend I was under pressure,” Gates said. “It actually happened this game, and so I was ready for it.”

For Central Valley, Jacob St. George scored 17 points, Mike Sims added 12, Brian Kolich 11 off the bench and John George 10. For Chartiers Valley, Jerrad Tuite had 27 points and was 18 of 22 from the free-throw line. McConnell added 22, but only eight in the second half.

“I’m just so proud of our guys and the way they stepped up and made plays, players 1 through 9,” Ambrose said.

Central Valley sent the game into the first overtime when Sims scored on a drive with four seconds left in regulation that tied the score, 55-55. Central Valley overcame a technical on Sims with 25 seconds left. He was called for a delay-of-game technical for hitting the ball after he made a basket.

In the second overtime, Matt Kline and Kolich made two free throws apiece to give Central Valley a 67-63 lead before Chartiers Valley’s Eddie Flohr scored on a drive with 1:51 left and McConnell tied it on a drive with 1:15 left. Gates scored to give Central Valley a two-point lead before McConnell’s basket tied it with 49 seconds left. Much of Chartiers Valley’s scoring in the fourth quarter and overtimes came on Tuite’s free-throw shooting.

For more on high school sports, go to “Varsity Blog” at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: mwhite@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh. First Published February 28, 2014 11:32 PM

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