January 19th, 2019

Late free throws lift Trinity by Waggener, 44-41

Staff Report

Late free throws lift Trinity by Waggener, 44-41
Trinity defeated Waggner to advance to the LIT finals/ photo by Nate Bryan

By Nate Bryan

Trinity struggled mightily on its free throws for most of the fourth quarter Friday night, but the Shamrocks finally canned those freebies when it mattered the most.

Reserve Ethan Hodge and starters David Johnson and Kamari Kenemore each went 2-for-2 at the foul line in the final minute to lift the second-seeded Shamrocks over the third-seeded Waggener Wildcats, 44-41 in the 72nd Annual Republic Bank Louisville Invitational Tournament's late semifinal at Valley High School's J.C. Cantrell Gymnasium.

"We shoot a whole lot of free throws in practice, so it was kind of like muscle memory," said Kenemore, who was previously 0-for-2 on the night at the foul line and whose only points of the game came with just 5.3 seconds left with his two free throws. "We weren't really focused in the first half on shooting free throws or just shooting, period, so those were big for us."

On the possession prior to Kenemore's free throws, Trinity (14-5) fouled Waggener (17-3) before it could attempt a possible tying 3-pointer. Following Kenemore's freebies, Waggener had one last possession, but couldn't get a shot off as Trinity secured its fourth straight championship-game berth.

Trinity was 0-for-6 at the foul line in the fourth quarter prior to going 6-for-6 in the final minute.

"It was just our mental toughness. We weren't very tough at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but I think it picked up as the game went on," said Johnson, a Louisville signee who finished with game highs in points (15), rebounds (seven) and blocks (four). "

Waggener took a 39-34 lead with 6:26 left in the game on a basket by senior guard Kevion Hudson, but the Wildcats wouldn't make a field goal again.

"We were making bone-headed plays and not being focused and they were making us play out of our element and we needed to get back into it," Johnson said of the late deficit. "This proves that when we lock in, we can beat anyone."

Trinity senior forward Jamil Hardaway scored in the lane with 5:56 left and again with 1:45 left to get the Shamrocks within 39-38. Trinity didn't trail again after Hodge's two foul shots with 44.1 seconds left.

"They were pressuring us in the full court, so we just had to stay calm, get the ball, relax and step up at the line," said Hodge, a sophomore guard. "And that's what I did."

Ninth-seeded Seneca (13-6) upset the fourth-seeded Ballard Bruins (11-8) in the early semifinal to set up Saturday afternoon's title game. The tipoff was moved from the evening because of the inclement weather forecast.


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