The crowd was deafening as the members of Holy Trinity walked to the sideline for a timeout that would either make or break their season after watching their late fourth quarter lead against an undefeated team vanish.
“I tried to say, ‘Hey, forget about it,’” Holy Trinity coach Joe Conefry said of the timeout. “’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.’”
With the game seemingly slipping from their grip, Nick Ferreiro took hold of it and led No. 4 Holy Trinity to a 72-69 upset over unbeaten No. 1 St. John the Baptist in a CHSAA semifinal game at C.W. Post.
On the first possession out of the timeout, Ferreiro found an open Richard Bess under the basket for an uncontested lay-up to regain a 66-64 lead with 2:10 left. After Cougar guard Joe Gibbons was whistled for a costly traveling call, Ferreiro drilled two free throws to make it a two possession game with 24.8 seconds to go. Ginyard then missed a desperate three attempt and Thomas Botsaris tossed the ball down court to a wide open Ferreiro, who laid it in to solidify the win.
A win that was in jeopardy after St. John the Baptist’s Khaleev Ginyard – who finished with 40 points, including nine three-pointers - nearly single-handedly erased a 10-point Trinity lead in a two minute span. Ginyard nailed three shots from beyond the arc, the last coming straightaway from three feet behind the college three point line to tie the game at 64 with 2:41 remaining and force the Titans to talk things over.
But the Titans held on to dethrone the defending champion Cougars and hand them its first league loss of the season. No. 4 Holy Trinity advances to play No. 2 St. Mary’s for the CHSAA Championship at 8 p.m. on Tuesday at Hofstra.
For St. John the Baptist, Ginyard and Gibbons both eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for their careers, the first time the Cougars have ever had two 1,000-point scorers on the same team.
Ferreiro finished with 22 points and Bess added a season high 20 points.
“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.”
Post Game Reaction
Nick Ferreiro on playing SJB: “Both times we played them in regular season we had them neck and neck until the end of the game so we knew we could win.”
On what was going through his mind when SJB tied the game: “Not again. This year they went on two big runs on us when we played them but we came up big and played tough. Ginyard shot the lights out of the ball so he had to miss sometime. If he is going to shoot like that all night you can’t beat them.”
On his two key free throws: “I felt some pressure, but I took a deep breath and I was fine."
Holy Trinity coach Joe Conefry on how they managed to beat SJB: “I think we have talent, a lot of heart and toughness. I can't say enough about Khaleev Ginyard and Joe Gibbons. They are not only good players but they play the right way. They are tough, they play both ends. We tried to make it as difficult as we could on those two guys. Unfortunately, they are both great players so they got some stuff done, made some things happen. But we figured if we could defend them and keep in it, we have some guys that can score also.”
On his team’s mindset after SJB tied the game: “A team that is undefeated, is not undefeated by accident. You are going to get up on them and they are going to make a run. Keep grinding and keep playing hard and no matter what happens just stay positive. There is no time to get upset, we just had to go score. I looked at our guys, I called a timeout, I tried to say ‘Hey, forget about it. Lets relax, there is two minutes left, lets get a good possession and some stops, the game is still in our hands.' ”
On Ferreiro: “Nick finds a way to get it done. When it is time to make a big play he just has a knack for it.”