There were times during the Section 4-AAAA boys basketball game between Trinity and Peters Township when Hillers coach Stan Noszka and Indians coach Gary Goga wanted to pull out what hair remained on their head.
When the game ended with one final scare, Noszka celebrated with an emphatic fist pump.
Nick Parello’s last-second layup fell short, possibly deflected by a Trinity defender, and the Hillers hung on for a 53-51 victory over Peters Township Friday for Trinity’s seventh straight win.
“I don’t think we played very good basketball, but the biggest thing about that is if you can win when you play bad, that’s a good thing,” said Noszka. “I have to give Peters a lot of credit. We made a few mistakes along the way. When you get a game like that, I believe it can go either way, and fortunately for us, it went our way.”
Corey Hunsberger made one of two free throws with 9.1 seconds remaining to give Trinity a 53-51 lead. Peters Township got the ball to Parello, who dribbled the length of the court, found an opening in the lane but could not convert the layup.
Trinity, which moved to 2-0 in the section and 7-1 overall, trailed 46-41 with 5:21 remaining, then turned up the defensive pressure and forced the Indians (1-2, 3-4) into a series of mistakes or missed field goals down the stretch.
Behind Hunsberger and Berton Miller, the Hillers started attacking the basket as the minutes ticked down and were rewarded either with layups or free throws. Miller, who had a monster game with 16 points and 14 rebounds, hit five of six free throws during 67-second span in the final two minutes.
Four of those free throws turned a 49-48 deficit into a 52-49 lead.
“Berton Miller has been playing outstanding,” said Noszka. “He’s been doing a great job not only on the offensive end, where he’s getting rebounds and making shots, he’s playing outstanding defense on the other end.”
Peters Township, which typically likes to look for three-point shots, didn’t really find its stroke until the third quarter, when Parello (14 points) drained four threes in the frame. Two other three-pointers helped the Indians take a 39-35 lead going into the fourth. But those shots weren’t falling in the final quarter.
“We switched different defenses, and one of the defenses we were in, we knew somebody would be open, and unfortunately for us, they hit the open shots,” Noszka said.
The Hillers are in a stretch where today’s game at Upper St. Clair will be their ninth game in 16 days. Yet they are one of just two teams in the section with fewer than three losses. Bethel Park is the other.
“We held court, basically,” said Noszka. “The good thing about this schedule is I don’t have to prepare practice plans, because we’re playing.”
Dakota Norton also scored 14 points for the Indians. Gabe Pritz had 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Christian Koroly scored 13 points, and Nick Moretti played well off the bench for Trinity, contributing nine points. Peters Township hit seven of 14 free throw attempts and Trinity had 20 of 26.
“With nine seconds, we got a layup. I’ll take it,” said Goga. “We just didn’t execute. We didn’t do what we needed to do. I’ll take the blame for it.”