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Trinity Christian's 'togetherness' leads to buzzer beating OT win over Starr's Mill

Trinity Christian's Cameron Wallace #0 begins to lead a fast break against Starr's Mill

As region races continue to heat up across Georgia, the Starr's Mill Panthers and Trinity Christian School Lions met up for their second regular season matchup, with the Lions looking to avoid the series sweep. The two teams last met on January 6 with the Panthers picking up the 68-64 win and as expected on Friday night, the two teams once again found themselves battling to the finish.

Heading into the night, both Starr's Mill and Trinity Christian had three losses in region play and trailed region leader, Fayette County by two games with the Panthers holding onto the fourth spot in the standings and Lions in the fifth position. As the game got underway, the Panthers would open up on a 9-2 run and close out the opening period with a 9-4 lead. However, the Lions would control the second quarter, outscoring Starr's Mill 11-7 and would trail 16-15 at the half.

As the second half got under way, Starr's Mill would open up the third quarter on a quick 5-2 run to take a 21-17 lead, but the Lions would outscore the Panthers 13-6 from their and close out the quarter with a 30-27 lead. However, the Panthers would not let the Trinity Christian get much momentum and in the fourth quarter with just under one minute to go in the quarter, Starr's Mill's Scott Stevens (15 points) would knock down a much needed three-point basket to tie the game at 41-41 and eventually send it to overtime.

In the extra period of play, the two teams continued to battle back and fourth, yet the Panthers would eventually find themselves up 46-44 with under a minute remaining and with possession of the ball following a jump ball call. On the ensuing in bounds play, the Lions defense would force Starr's Mill to turn the ball over as it would end up in the hands of Ernesto Almonte (12 points) who would score and draw the foul, tying the game once again at 46 all. With a chance to give the Lions a one point lead, Almonte would fail on the free throw attempt, however, Trinity Christian would regain possession after battle for the loose ball would go out off a Starr's Mill player with nine seconds remaining in the overtime period.

On the ensuing in bounds play, the ball would be go to Trinity Christian's Kalen Shenwell (13 points) who would dribble across court towards the Lions bench and get off a three point basket that would make good just as the buzzer sounded to end the game and Trinity Christian would pick up the 49-46 win, evening the season series and more importantly, leaping ahead of Starr's Mill in the standings. "I've done this for 10 years so I know that you want to be playing your best basketball at the end and we've had a rough start, but we're starting to groove a little bit," Trinity Christian School head coach, Will De La Cruz said after the game.

The Lions' coach would go on to acknowledge that he and his players knew that they would be walking into a tough atmosphere on Friday and that the home crowd of the Panthers would make it tough for them to walk out with the win. "I know that coming here every time it's going to be an intense environment. We love that and it's fun either way. It's always a fun game in here," De La Cruz added and later praising his players for the way they stayed together down the stretch. "We didn't make all the perfect plays, but we were together the whole time and that stood out to me," De La Cruz said.

With the win, the Lions improve to 8-10 overall and 4-3 in the region standings and will take on LaGrange on Saturday with an opportunity to pick up another region win. Starr's Mill will look to bounce back on Saturday when they face region foe, McIntosh. "We're taking it one day at a time. We took care of tonight so now it's LaGrange. We have to go to LaGrange tomorrow, we have to take care of that," De La Cruz said.


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