After watching his team's 10-point lead quickly vanish, Holy Trinity coach Joe Conefry called a timeout and tried to be a calming influence.
"I tried to say, 'Hey, forget about it,' '' he said. " 'Let's relax. There's two minutes left, so let's get a good possession and some stops, and the game is still in our hands.' "
Then Nick Ferreiro proved him correct.
Overcoming a 40-point effort by St. John the Baptist's Khaleev Ginyard that included nine three-pointers, No. 4 Holy Trinity came through down the stretch behind Ferreiro's clutch play for a 72-69 win over the top-seeded Cougars Sunday in a CHSAA semifinal game at C.W. Post.
Holy Trinity plays St. Mary's in the championship game at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Hofstra.
After Conefry settled down the Titans in the timeout, Ferreiro (22 points) helped settle them down on the court. On the first possession after the timeout, he found an open Richard Bess (season-high 20 points) under the basket for a layup to give the Titans the lead for good at 66-64. After Cougars guard Joe Gibbons was whistled for traveling, Ferreiro hit two free throws to make it a two-possession game with 24.8 seconds to go. Ginyard then missed a desperate three-point attempt and Thomas Botsaris tossed the ball downcourt to a wide-open Ferreiro, who laid it in.
"To seal that win is big because they are really good," Ferreiro said. "We just beat an undefeated team, the best team in the league. We have confidence in ourselves. We know we can win this."
Not much earlier, it appeared as if St. John the Baptist might not give Trinity that chance. Ginyard nailed three shots from beyond the arc in a span of two minutes to erase a 10-point deficit and tie it at 64 with 2:41 left.
Ginyard and Gibbons eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for their careers, the first time St. John the Baptist has had two 1,000-point scorers on the same team.
St. Mary's rallies to win. Chavaughn Lewis had 20 points, including 10 in a 19-10 third quarter for No. 2 St. Mary's, which overcame a 10-point first-half deficit and beat No. 3 Chaminade, 54-46, in the other semifinal.
Chaz Morrish's three-pointer with 3:40 left extended St. Mary's lead to five. With just under a minute left, he passed to Lewis for a one-handed slam that put the Gaels up by nine.