Trinity comes up big, topples Central
Trinity's Pat Keefe is able to drive by a very aggressive Central defender in Mike Plentzas in the second period at Central High School in Manchester on Tuesday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)
Now the stakes get a little higher.
Trinity traveled across town to rally past rival Central, 49-45, Tuesday night in a game where the big-game experience of Mabor Gabriel and Carmen Giampetruzzi was the difference.
Gabriel (20 points, 14 rebounds) and Giampetruzzi (11, 10 rebounds) scored 11 of Trinity's final 13 points, allowing the streaking Pioneers (16-1) to rally from six points down in the final quarter, move into sole possession of first place in Division I with one game left in the regular season and sweep all three city teams. Trinity plays Timberlane of Plaistow in its finale on Friday; Central visits Bedford.
After Friday, it's on to the state tournament where both teams will be favored to make it to Durham for the final two rounds.
Mix in junior Pat Keefe (8) and almost all of Trinity's scoring came from those three in the second half.
"Coach (Dave Keefe) kept saying we had the experience," Giampetruzzi said after Trinity won its sixth straight. "He said he wanted the ball in our hands."
The Little Green (15-2) lost their second straight and one of the reasons was they had no one to step up when Trinity shifted to a diamond-and-one defense to slow down Central senior Troy Pelletier.
Pelletier (20 points) had 13 points in the first half and 18 through three quarters as Central forged a 38-32 lead, but he was held two points in a fourth quarter that saw the Little Green manage just seven as a team.
A 3-pointer by Giampetruzzi put the Pioneers up 39-38 with 3:31 left - their first lead since late in the first quarter - and Gabriel iced it with eight points. He and junior guard Pat Keefe were 8-for-10 at the foul line in the final two minutes.
The Little Green were 2-for-9 from the field, missed the front end of two bonus situations at the foul line and committed three turnovers in the fourth quarter.
On Senior Night, it was clear this was going to be game decided by two of the best seniors in the state, Pelletier and Gabriel.
Gabriel had the first four points for the Pioneers; Pelletier had seven of the first 12 for the Little Green. Pelletier finished with 13 in the half as Central took a 27-25 lead at the break.
Central was 7-for-15, 3-for-5 from 3-point range, to take a 19-14 lead after one quarter. Pelletier opened the second quarter with two quick baskets, a baseline jumper and a flying two-handed follow, to put the Little Green up 23-16, but a 3-pointer by Giampetruzzi and four straight free throws by Mabor Gabriel and younger brother Wenjin Gabriel tied the game with 3:09 left.
The Pioneers, aggressive to the basket and with an advantage inside, were 10-for-10 from the foul line. They outscored the Little Green, 21-6, at the line.