Holy Trinity finishes strong to run away from Cocoa

Nickson scores 28 as Tigers win 66-44


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Holy Trinity's Dru Nickson drives in for a layup attempt during Saturday night's district game against Cocoa. Nickson would get fouled on the play and hit both free throws on his way to a 28-point night as Holy Trinity won 66-44.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

There was a time during the third quarter of Friday night’s boys basketball game between the Holy Trinity Tigers and the visiting Cocoa Tigers that we might have a game that would go down to the wire.

Then Holy Trinity turned up the defensive pressure … and that was your ballgame.

After seeing their lead cut to 36-35 midway through the third quarter, the Holy Trinity Tigers outscored Cocoa 30-9 the rest of the way for a 66-44 Class 5A, District 7 victory.

Holy Trinity’s Dru Nickson, who led all scorers with 28 points, credited the team’s defensive effort which helped the Tigers offense get going.

“Stepping up the defense, being in the passing lanes, being more aggressive than they were and then getting out and running,” Nickson said. “(We had) more ball pressure and boxing out on the shots. That helped a lot.”

Playing without big man Seth Coleman, who was on an official visit for football at the University of Illinois, the Tigers had to make some adjustments against a big, athletic Cocoa team. That led to occasional matchups of Holy Trinity’s 6-foot, 185-pound Preston Milo against Cocoa’s 6-foot-4, 285-pound Richie Leonard.

But no matter what the matchups were, Holy Trinity’s overall team defense in the second half proved to be too much for Cocoa to handle.

“I thought in the first half, we were a little bit sloppy defensively,” Holy Trinity coach Steve Henderson said. “Guys were out of rotations, kind of looked a little passive, and then really picked it up in the second half.

“Guys started defending, and when we defend well, we always get out in transition well. Our spark starts on defense. When that starts happening, guys start feeling a little more confidence offensively.

“Once that started happening tonight, we started making the plays we expect to make.”

In addition to Nickson’s 28 points, the Tigers (5-0) got 11 points from Antwan Freeman and 10 points from James BlackStrain. Milo was next with seven points.

“Antwan Freeman did a really good job off the bench tonight for us,” Henderson said. “Javaris Johnson (played well). James BlackStrain had a very good offensive night for us, but he’s really our defensive leader. He gets us going.”

Saturday’s game was the last home game for a while for the Tigers as they will hit the road beginning Tuesday at the First Academy in Orlando.

Holy Trinity’s next home game will come Jan. 9 against Heritage.