MCMURRAY – Six losses in seven games wasn’t exactly the intent, Christian Koroly insisted.
But the hole the Trinity boys basketball team dug for itself, deep as it might be, could turn out to be all the motivation the Hillers need.
“I think we play well whenever we feel that we’re the underdog,” Koroly said. “Last year, I feel like we played the underdog role all year, and we played well.
“We’re coming into every game now with the mentality that, ‘We have to do this.’ ”
It’s only one game, but Trinity sure played with a sense of urgency during Saturday night’s 60-46 win at Peters Township, where a loss would’ve knocked the Hillers out of the playoff picture.
Koroly led all scorers with 24 points and made four three-pointers. Corey Hunsberger helped out with 15 points, buried six of seven foul shots and had five rebounds. Avery King started and pulled down 12 rebounds.
But the most important facet of this one was that Trinity (4-6, 10-8) didn’t fade after the second half, outscoring Peters Township by seven over the final two quarters.
“We closed the game, which has been a big problem for us,” Hunsberger said. “We didn’t stop scoring. We actually finished the game.”
Trinity limited Peters Township (4-6, 7-10) to just two three-pointers on 25 attempts, one in each half. Gabe Pritz had 23 points and 12 rebounds, Tim Swoope added 12 points, but the loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Indians, who had seemingly turned it around after a 1-5 start to section play.
“We played horrible,” said Peters Township coach Gary Goga. “Worst game of the year. Didn’t come to play. Can’t win going 2-for-25 and not playing defense. That’s it. That’s the game right there.”
The most pivotal sequence of the game came late in the third quarter.
Peters Township cut Trinity’s lead to 34-29 following a Pritz layup when Jared Deep (eight points) scored on a putback and Koroly made a three-pointer from two steps behind the line, tumbling backwards at midcourt as the ball swished through the net.
The Indians would never truly threaten again.
“He’s been struggling a little bit, but he was coming off the screen-and-roll and getting some easy shots,” Trinity coach Stan Noszka said of Koroly. “He was distributing the ball, not forcing shots. I thought he did a real good job on defense, too.”
Koroly scored eight points in the fourth quarter, as Trinity outscored Peters Township, 17-11, a rare strong performance late for the up-and-down Hillers.
“It was one of our better games,” Noszka said. “A real team victory.”
Trinity built a 13-11 advantage after the first quarter, getting its first five points from Hunsberger.
The Hillers made their first significant push with an 8-2 run in the middle of the second quarter. The spurt, which gave Trinity a 28-21 lead, was capped by a putback from King, who had nine rebounds in the opening half.
Pritz had 11 first-half points for Peters Township, Koroly the same for the Hillers, who had a 30-23 advantage at the break.
And for once this season, perhaps because it’s no longer possible if they want to make the playoffs, the Hillers didn’t falter down the stretch.
“We’ve put ourselves in a hole,” said Hunsberger, who played on last year’s team that won four of six to close the regular season then scored two upset wins in the playoffs. “We’re starting to realize that you don’t get another chance at this, and I think it’s just really important to everyone to make it to the playoffs and do well.”