On defense, Damon Coleman doesn't just stalk his prey. He waits for a sign of weakness, then strikes.
Holy Trinity's senior guard has hands and feet so quick that opponents are often left empty-handed and bewildered. Coleman made six steals, including a couple of open-court beauties, and got his hands on numerous other passes and dribbles in No. 2 Holy Trinity's 59-40 victory over No. 3 St. Anthony's Sunday in a CHSAA semifinal at LIU Post.
"My quick hands are God-given. I don't work on that," said Coleman, who scored 21 points. "But I work with a trainer on my quick feet. On defense, we like to pressure the ball and get into transition."
The Titans (19-6), who will face No. 4 Chaminade for the CHSAA championship Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Hofstra, were a little sluggish early, going scoreless for more than four minutes. But Coleman got them going in the second quarter with some sleight of hand and some slick of feet.
He turned a steal into a layup and three-point play. Moments later, his driving scoop shot keyed an 11-1 run that forged a 26-18 halftime lead. Coleman sliced through traffic for another three-point play and made a shake-and-bake, pull-up jumper and a deflating steal as Holy Trinity built a 40-30 lead after three.
St. Anthony's (12-12) came to life early in the fourth. Nigel Carter (16 points) sparked the rally with a slick spin move. Anfernee Casimir (13 points) dunked on the break and followed with a pull-up jumper that made it 40-36 with 5:36 left. Then it was Coleman with two more steals, a pair of free throws, a nifty layup and an exclamation-point, coast-to-coast drive. Isaiah Rowe contributed seven of his 16 points in the fourth as Holy Trinity finished the game on a rousing 19-4 run.
"We build our whole program around ball pressure," Titans coach Joe Conefry said. "Our defense in the fourth quarter won it. Damon is the key to our team. He's the player who makes it happen. I put it in his hands and he took us home."