There have been fond memories for Trinity High School girls basketball coach Kathy McConnell-Miller at the Petersen Events Center.
Earlier in McConnell-Miller’s coaching career, which has extended from college to the WNBA, The Pete was her home court. She was an assistant under her sister and former Pitt women’s basketball coach Suzie McConnell-Serio.
The memories will grow this afternoon in McConnell-Miller’s first season as a high school coach because she has guided Trinity to its second WPIAL championship game. The third-seeded Hillers will play section rival, top-seeded and unbeaten Chartiers Valley in the Class 5A title game at 3 p.m.
“There is no secret we grew up in the city and loving Pitt,” McConnell-Miller said. “I have a love and affection for that university. It was my home for five years. I’ve had a lot of good memories.”
Creating another memory won’t be a difficult task as she will be coaching against her brother, Chartiers Valley coach Tim McConnell, and niece Megan McConnell, the senior point guard for the Colts.
What will be difficult for McConnell-Miller and Trinity (19-4) will be finding a way to defeat Chartiers Valley (24-0). The Colts have won 54 consecutive games, are trying to repeat as WPIAL and PIAA champions and are two victories away from breaking the WPIAL record. The record is currently held by North Catholic’s run of dominance from 1987-89.
“I think we have to bring our best game,” McConnell-Miller said. “They’ve got so many weapons and Megan runs the show. There’s no secret they have five talented players on the floor at all times.”
Chartiers Valley defeated the Hillers in both Section 1 games this season. Trinity led entering the fourth quarter Jan. 2 but lost 62-56. The Colts then won 67-50 at the end of January.
It will be the second consecutive season the two teams will play one another three times. Chartiers Valley defeated the Hillers twice in the regular season last year and again in the WPIAL quarterfinals.
“It’s not an easy thing to do,” Tim McConnell said. “You know each other really well. I like playing other teams because they really have to prepare because they don’t know you. It’s going to be tough.”
Megan McConnell is averaging 14.8 points, 4.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds for Chartiers Valley. Aislin Malcolm, a sophomore with several Division I offers already, leads the Colts at 16.4 points per game. Hallie Cowen and Perri Page also average of 10 points.
“I like having the options we have,” McConnell said. “We aren’t one-dimensional. But we haven’t even talked or though about (the streak). We are just trying to win the next game, which happens to be the WPIAL championship. The streak isn’t our focus.”
Riley DeRubbo is the leading scorer with 16 points per game, but the Hillers can score at every position, similar to Chartiers Valley. Forward Courtney Dahlquist was a first-team all-section selection and Alyssa Clutter was named to the second team.
DeRubbo has been hampered with foul trouble in both games against the Colts this year.
“It’s the big stage. Every kid who grows up playing basketball here has the goal of winning a WPIAL championship,” McConnell-Miller said. “We have them prepared. We are trying to teach them what to expect, but until you are in it, then you don’t know how they are going to do. I have faith in them. Our entire team will play with the passion and excitement they have to play with in this game.”