Matty McConnell lay in a hospital bed roughly two weeks ago after having surgery to remove a lacerated appendix, a procedure that caused him to miss three games.
With Chartiers Valley playing host to Montour Friday night, he visited a doctor earlier with his playing status still uncertain.
Ultimately, he was cleared to play, and this junior guard poured in a game-high 32 points to help lead the Colts to a 74-59 victory against their Class AAA Section 5 rival.
"We talked to the doctor and the doctor said, 'If he feels like he can go, I'll give him permission, give him clearance,' " Chartiers Valley coach Tim McConnell, Matty's father, said. "I know my son and he wants to go. There was no keeping him out."
Despite the time off, a period in which his team lost its only game of the season, McConnell's game was largely seamless. He made 8 of 12 field-goal attempts and 5 of 7 3-pointers.
Implementing a full-court defense, the Colts (8-1) forced the Spartans (5-3) into 23 turnovers, many of which came in the halfcourt, right after Montour had withstood the initial pressure.
For years, it could turn to Devin Wilson to navigate the team in those situations, but with Wilson in his freshman season at Virginia Tech, the Spartans suddenly became a slower team forced to play an up-tempo game.
"We absolutely played into their hands," Montour coach Adam Kaufman said. "We don't play in the 80s or 70s or whatever it is. They played their style of game and to their credit, they beat us."
That defense allowed Chartiers Valley to routinely get good scoring opportunities on the other end, something that enabled it to start the game on a 13-2 run and eventually build a 33-16 lead in the second quarter.
For all their early struggles, the Spartans ended the first half on an 11-2 run to close the gap to 35-27.
It was then, however, that McConnell took over.
After missing a free throw at the beginning of the third quarter, McConnell would make the next seven shots he took, four of which came from 3-point range. He scored 17 of his team's 25 points in that eight-minute period, a run that pushed his team's lead to 19 points and put the game almost entirely out of reach.
"I knew I was hitting my shot, so I just went to get the ball," McConnell said. "Credit to my teammates -- they got me the ball when I was feeling hot, so I just kept shooting."
Montour's Dustin Sleva converted 10 of his 13 shots for a team-high 25 points in a losing effort.
Though the Colts and Spartans are much different teams from the ones that played in the WPIAL Class AAA championship a season ago, the intra-section victory was an important one for a team that was able to get its star back.
"We knew if we wanted to have a chance at winning the section that we had to take care of Montour on our home floor," Tim McConnell said. "This was a very meaningful game."
Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG.