The Holy Trinity Tigers fully expect to be a dangerous basketball team by the end of the season.
But there will be a few bumps along the way.
Tuesday night, was one of those bumps.
The Tigers watched a 10-point fourth quarter lead slip away as visiting John Carroll Catholic’s Wilky Denaud hit two free throws with 5.1 seconds remaining to give the Rams a 61-59 non-district victory.
Holy Trinity (3-3) trailed 59-56 with just over a minute remaining when sophomore guard Elijah Reynolds hit a game-tying 3-pointer, then stole the inbounds pass to put the Tigers in a position to take the lead in the final moments.
However, after trying to work for a shot, the Tigers missed on a baseline drive, couldn’t get the tip to fall. John Carroll got the ball with 12 seconds to go and headed down court where Denaud was eventually fouled. The Tigers missed a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“That was a tough shot for a young kid to have to go in and shoot,” Holy Trinity coach Steve Henderson. “He’s a good shooter. It just didn’t fall.
“But it doesn’t come down to that. We lost that quarter 23-11. That’s the game right there. We didn’t defend well enough to finish the game.”
It didn’t help the Tigers that they went 8-for-22 at the free throw line, either.
“I think that’s a game we should win (by) 10 to 15 points,” Henderson said. “We’re struggling to close out games. That’s two games in a row that we’ve lost (where) we had a lead in the fourth quarter. It’s a little bit frustrating, but we’re going to have to figure it out because we’re going right back at it Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week with really good teams.”
The Tigers are scheduled to host Satellite on Thursday, Rockledge on Friday and then play Hagerty at a tournament in Oviedo on Saturday.
Senior Theo Mansell led the Tigers in scoring against John Carroll with 17 points despite getting in some first half foul trouble. Reynolds was next with 16 points and senior Eric Parnell had 14 points.
With only three seniors on the roster – Mansell, Parnell and Jadon Gowins – the Tigers are a young team that certainly shows flashes of the way it’s capable of playing.
Holy Trinity’s defense created turnovers and the Tigers were able to get some nice, open looks and also do some damage with their offensive rebounding.
Just before the end of the first half, Gowins dove on the floor to secure a steal. Parnell would eventually score on a putback just before the buzzer and the Tigers led 31-27 at the break.
Holy Trinity would grow that lead to 12 at one point in the third quarter and led 38-28 after three quarters.
But the Tigers couldn’t sustain it and they lost their third straight.
Still, with three more games to play this week, the Tigers have a chance to get things back on track as they prepare to make a run at another Class 3A, District 9 title down the road.
“As long as we can learn from our mistakes and continue to get better, I think we’ll be all right,” Henderson said.