WHEELING, W.Va. — Trinity boys basketball coach John Fowkes knows how successful the Warriors’ season is will be determined by what happens in March.
For now, however, Fowkes is certainly enjoying his team’s strong start, which continued Saturday night at Wheeling Jesuit’s Alma Grace McDonough Center with a come-from-behind 64-56 win over Wheeling Central in the Undo’s Tournament championship.
“For our program it’s a huge win. I really don’t know the last time Trinity has beaten Wheeling Central and as far as I can remember going five years back I don’t recall it happening,” Fowkes said. “To beat them in their own Undo’s Tournament championship is pretty significant, because they don’t lose in this tournament. We talked about that as a coaching staff how they just don’t lose on this day.
“The atmopshere was very state tournament-like and that was a state tournament-like game. We’re not going to get too excited because you know coming down the stretch chances are we’re going to see them a couple more times this year. We don’t want to thump our chest too hard, but we’re going to enjoy this one for the next two days.”
The Warriors (7-0) had a 36-32 lead entering the fourth quarter, but it was erased by Anthony Robbins, who scored Wheeling Central’s first 10 points of the quarter, before Bray Price converted a layup to give the Maroon Knights (3-2) a 44-39 lead with 6:22 remaining.
But it was all Trinity from that point forward and after Joel Roberton’s 3-pointer pulled the Warriors to within 46-44, Briston Bennett scored inside to tie the game with 4:02 left.
A layup by Robertson gave the Warriors the lead for good at 49-48, and Bennett scored six straight points in a span of 39 seconds to turn a two-point Trinity lead into a 57-49 advantage.
“We knew Wheeling Central makes runs, but so does Trinity,” Fowkes said.
Wheeling Central got to within five on separate occasions in the final 50 seconds, but the Warriors made 7-of-8 free throws to seal the verdict.
Bennett scored 15 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter to allow the Warriors to remain unbeaten.
The Maroon Knights held a 13-8 lead after one quarter and were on top 19-13 in the second quarter, but Bennett made a pair of 3s to key an 8-2 Trinity run to end the first half with the game tied at 23.
Central took a 29-25 lead in the third quarter, before Mark Spruill scored five straight points to put Trinity in front.
Bennett and Robertson each made 3s in the late stages of the third quarter that allowed the Warriors to hold the four-point lead entering the fourth.
“There was defense, there was offense, there was rebounding and it was physical,” Fowkes said. “That’s all you ask for and that’s a game in December. If this matchup happens down the road, it’s even going to be better.”
Robertson scored 14 points in the win, while Josh Hart contriubted six assists and five rebounds.
Robbins led the Maroon Knights with 14 points and eight rebounds. Ryan Reasbeck scored 13 points in the loss and Price and Avery Lee had nine apiece.
The Warriors outscored Wheeling Central 21-9 from 3-point range and held the Maroon Knights to less than 37 percent shooting (17-of-46).