Saturday, February 8, 2014

Trinity Tops BG in Possible Final Four Preview Match Up

I'm not sure which is more bizarre, the fact that Trinity scored ZERO points in the 3rd quarter and still won, or the fact that Trinity went from scoring a whopping 43 points in the 1st half to 0 in the 3rd quarter. It was just one of those nights at Trinity High's McHugh Gymnasium.

In a hard fought battle that had the crowd, intensity and atmosphere of a tournament game Trinity prevailed 59-54. The Pioneers led by as many as 18 but BG made a resilient comeback to knot the game at 43-43 which was the score after 3 quarters. But Trinity made more plays in the 4th quarter and they escape with the win. Trinity is now 10-1 on the season, while BG falls to 10-2. Junior forward Wenyen Gabriel had a game-high 18 points to go with 15 rebounds, while seniors Carmen Giampetruzzi (14 points) and Ryan Otis (13 points) both scored in double figures.

"I thought our defense was really good in the 2nd half" said Bishop Guertin head coach Jim Migneault. "We went back to the old basics. Man-to-man, and got up in their face. We can grind it out in the 4th quarter with anybody. We got some good shots in the 4th, but they weren't going in. I;m happy with how our kids competed."

Trinity wasn't missing any shots early on, as they exploded for 25 points in the 1st quarter. Luke Testa came off the bench and immediately drilled a 3-pointer. Then Gabriel made a quick steal, lead the fast break with a hard push up the floor, made a good dish to Giampetruzzi who up-faked and then converted the layup. It was 12-3 Trinity and BG was forced to call a timeout. Out of the timeout Otis (was 4/4 on 3's in 1st half) drilled his first 3 of the game to make it 15-3. BG answered back with 2 quick hoops, a layup by Jack Zimmerman (8 points) and an 18-footer by John Noon (8 points). Right after that Brad Rhoades (7 points) hit a 3 to make it 18-7 Trinity. The Pioneers had 18 points and 5 different players had scored (3 different players had already hit 3's). Then Otis hit another 3, as it seemed like these kids could not miss! BG called another timeout, and out of the timeout Noon hit a 3 for BG - they needed that! Then CJ Boykin hit Andrew Williams right in stride with a nice dish for a layup. Then Gabriel made his third put-back of the quarter - you have got to put a body on him! It was 25-12 Trinity after 1.

The two teams continued to go at each other hard and hit shots in the 2nd quarter. Gabriel again showed the ability to not just rebound the ball and kick it to a guard to start the break, but he again lead the break himself. This time he pushed it up the floor and dished it to Connor Walsh for a layup. Later on Gabriel hit a 3-pointer too. So not only is Gabriel 6-foot-7, only a junior and dominating the paint but he's also leading the break and hitting 3's. This kid has a ton of upside.

"He's gotten better every time I've seen him play" said Coach Migneault. "He's more physical now. I thought we did a better job on him in the 2nd half."

"We're missing Mabor now, so I have to fill his shoes" said Gabriel, referring to his older brother Mabor Gabriel who was a standout player for Trinity before graduating last year. "I've always been working on my ball handling and trying to push the ball up the court."

Otis hit another 3, and Trinity went up 30-14. You simply cannot leave that kid open! Gabriel made a weak side block, then Trinity had a nicely executed give-and-go on the break from Giampetruzzi to Rhoades, back to Giampetruzzi for a layup. That gave the Pioneers their largest lead of the game, 32-14 with 5:29 left in the 1st half.

Then BG came back with an 11-2 run.

He only had 2 points in the 2nd quarter, but Boykin was keeping BG in the game with his sheer energy. He is a freakishly quick and athletic, and is like a little ball of energy running around out there. Boykin was hustling and busting his tail, wreaking havoc on both ends of the court. He was grabbing steals and was quicker to all the rebounds and loose balls than the Trinity players were.

Boykin led the Cardinals' charge, along with baskets by Zimmerman, Kyle Gavin (9 points) and Charles Olivieri. oon hit another 3, and BG closed to within 8. But then Otis banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer, and Trinity went into halftime leading 43-31.

In the 3rd is when BG again made a comeback, this time tying the game up 43-43. BG outscored Trinity 12-0 in the 3rd quarter. That's right, 0 points for the Pioneers in the 3rd. Yikes! And yes, they still won!

"That's the longest drought I can remember, especially with the talented kids we've got" said Trinity head coach Dave Keefe. "BG definitely stepped it up, and got more physical which we didn't react well to."

Zimmerman hit a jumper from the elbow, the Joe Marandola (9 points) made a layup on the break. Then a big call was made, as Boykin picked up his 4th foul with 4:30 left in the 3rd and his team down 43-37. His teammates would step it up though, and continue the comeback. Marandola hit an 18-footer, then Kyle Lavoie finished inside after catching a pass while cutting to the rim. That cut the Trinity lead to 43-41. Then Zimmerman made another big play. He was being pressured hard defensively in the corner. Then Zimmerman used a crossover dribble to blow by his defender, drove baseline and made the layup to tie the game 43-43. That was a big time play for the smooth sophomore guard.

The officials were letting them play, especially towards the end of the 3rd quarter. I have no problem with that though, NH kids need to get tougher. It was tied 43-43 heading to the 4th.

Trinity's scoring drought finally ended in the beginning of the 4th, as Gabriel made a pair of FTs. Still, the Pioneers ended up with just 3 field goals in the 2nd half. BG answered as Marandola faced up and hit another jumper from 18 feet. Then senior forward Costas Niarhos ripped a steal out of Gabriel's hands. Niarhos is a tough kid who really battles out there.

"He does all the dirty work for us" said Migneault. "Hes rebounds, plays physical and hangs in there with people bigger than him size-wise."

After the steal by Niarhos, BG had the ball down 47-45 with a chance to tie or take the lead. They weren't able to score however, and then Rhoades and Gabriel countered with quick hoops for Trinity. Just like that it was a 6 point game, 51-45.

Trinity had one stretch in the 4th quarter where they missed 6 of 8 free throws. Boykin hit a pull-up 3-pointer to cut the lead to 57-54 with 6.6 seconds left. Trinity hung on from there for the 59-54 win.

It certainly appears as though Central, Trinity, Merrimack and BG are the top 4 teams in D-I. Keep an eye on Londonderry too.

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