Leading by 16 points entering the fourth quarter, Trinity’s boys basketball team appeared to be on its way to a much-needed Section 4-AAAA victory.
Canon-McMillan had other plans.
Trinity blew a 20-point second-half lead, ultimately falling to Canon-McMillan, 76-75, in overtime. It was the Hillers’ third overtime section loss at home this season.
“We should have won the game,” said Trinity head coach Stan Noszka. “I give them all the credit in the world, but the facts are that we gave one away tonight.”
Trinity (4-7, 10-9) did so in grand fashion.
Canon-McMillan (5-5, 10-8) struggled offensively for most of the night and trailed 45-25 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Despite the deficit, the Big Macs kept chipping away, in large part becasue they were able to force Trinity into mistakes handling the basketball.
“Every time we hook up, it is going to be a tight, one-possession game,” said Canon-McMillan head coach Rick Bell. “We expected that coming in, so it was good to see this one go our way.”
But it didn’t happen until senior Seth Combs made a three-pointer with seven seconds remaining in overtime for Canon-McMillan’s first lead of the game.
Just prior to Combs’ three-pointer, Trinity’s Berton Miller missed a runner in the lane that could have extended the Hillers’ lead to four points, and Jared Deep followed by missing a pair of free throws.
“Without a doubt the biggest shot I ever made,” said Combs, who finished with 11 points. “That was the most exciting game I have ever played in. We fell behind early, but we never quit. This is the best team I have ever played on because we don’t give up.”
Trinity had one last shot to win, but Avery King’s jumper at the buzzer fell short – unlike a year ago, when King hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Big Macs.
C-M trailed by 12 with just over three minutes remaining in regulation, but its full-court trap forced several Trinity turnovers that were turned into easy baskets.
Combs cut the deficit to eight with a three-pointer with two minutes remaining, and the Big Macs then got back-to-back layups from Sam Bohn and Brett Haney off Trinity turnovers.
Combs cut the Trinity lead to 68-66 with a layup, and Haney put back a missed shot at the buzzer to force overtime.
The Hillers had chances to win from the free-throw line. At one point, the Hillers were 19-of-24 from the line, but finished the game by missing eight of their next 11.
“We knew they weren’t a great free-throw shooting team coming in,” said Bell. “There were certain guys we wanted on the line late in the game and it worked out for us.”
The Hillers started the game with a 14-4 run and had a 17-point lead at the half at 36-19. The Big Macs made only five shots from the floor in the first half, including one in the first quarter, but started to get better shots in the second half.
Haney scored 18 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, and Bohn scored 17 of his 20 after halftime.
“Once we started to get them in foul trouble, they weren’t as aggressive on defense,” said Bell. “We were able to get to the basket more efficiently in the second half and got better looks at the basket. We also had some guys step up. I couldn’t be happier for a guy like Seth. He has worked so hard and deserves that moment.”
Trinity was led in scoring by Koroly with 19 points. Deep (16), Corey Hunsberger (15) and Miller (13) also finished in double figures.