NHIAA Div. I Boys' Basketball Semifinals: Trinity Pioneers will get another shot at Cards
His players may disagree.
The top-seeded Pioneers held off No. 4 Nashua South, 60-58, Tuesday night at Lundholm Gymnasium to move into the championship game of the Division I boys' basketball tournament for the second time in three years.
And, for the second time in three years, Trinity (20-1) will go up against its Catholic school rival, Bishop Guertin of Nashua. The Cardinals won the last time around, beating the Pioneers, 54-46, in the 2011 final.
"We can get some revenge," junior forward Carmen Giampetruzzi said.
But first, the Pioneers had to figure out a way to stop Nashua South point Tim Preston. The junior scored 16 of his team-high 22 points for the Panthers (16-5) in the second half as he rallied his team from a double-digit deficit.
Junior guard Brad Rhoades got the chore and did an admirable job helping hold Preston to three points in the final six minutes of the fourth. Preston's final points came on a conventional three-point play with 1:43 left to cut Trinity's lead to 57-56.
"Brad Rhoades did a heck of a job on him," Keefe said. "I think that kid (Preston) is the best point guard in our division."
Trinity center Mabor Gabriel had 26 points - 17 in the first half - and 14 rebounds, while Giampetruzzi added 17 points and 10 rebounds. They were able to limit Nashua South big man Jack Preston to five points before he fouled out with 1:55 left.
The game came down to a free throw shooting contest and Trinity barely came out ahead. The Pioneers missed three of their final foul shots in the final 1:20, but Nashua South missed four of six - after twice drawing fouls while shooting 3-pointers.
The Panthers were down 60-57 with 1.2 seconds left when Vincent Ortolano did a great job getting Gabriel to bite on a fake on a trey. The Pioneers had a foul to give and that's what Ryan Otis tried to do as Ortolano set back up for another shot, but his timing was bad and Ortolano was awarded three free throws.
Ortolano missed the first, made the second and missed the third intentionally in hopes the Panthers could get the rebound and put up a shot. However, the ball bounded into the corner and Trinity's Pat Keefe beat everyone to it as the horn sounded. Giampetruzzi raced over and covered Keefe up to make sure the Panthers couldn't get it.
The Panthers jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but the Pioneers dominated the rest of the first quarter, taking a 21-13 lead. Gabriel had 17 points in the quarter, including a breakaway dunk to put the Pioneers up 19-11.
Trinity is in the championship game for the fifth time since 2007.
The Pioneers' one title in that stretch came in 2009.
Trinity 60, Nashua South 58
Nashua South: Dan Auger 3-0-6; Tim Preston 10-2-22; David Dunham 3-1-8; Jack Preston 2-1-5; Trevor Knight 1-2-4; Cam Joyal 1-0-3; Vincent Ortolano 1-1-4; Nick Penkala 3-0-6. Totals 24-7-58
Three-pointers: Dunham, Joyal, Ortolano
Trinity: Wenjin Gabriel 1-0-2; Brad Rhoades 1-1-4; Mabor Gabriel 10-6-26; Carmen Giampetruzzi 5-7-17; Pat Keefe 1-4-6; Ryan Otis 2-1-5. Totals 20-19-60
Nashua South (16-5) 13- 10- 20- 15- 58
Trinity (20-1) 21- 9- 13- 17- 60