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High school basketball: Blessed Trinity boys 47, Riverside Military 43
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The Riverside Eagles were where they wanted to be.

They trailed all but two minutes of Wednesday’s second-round Class AA playoff game, and with 2:24 to play and the game tied, Blessed Trinity was mired in an 0-for-10 shooting slump.

Unfortunately for Riverside, the visiting Titans weren’t missing from the free throw line.

Without the benefit of a fourth-quarter field goal, Blessed Trinity knocked off the Eagles, 47-43, by converting on 12 of 16 free throw attempts in the final eight minutes.

For Riverside (14-7) the loss ended a historic season which included the school’s first basketball region championship and first playoff win.

Blessed Trinity (24-6) earned its own first with the win, advancing to the state quarterfinals for the first time. The Titans will take on Dade County/Callaway winner 5:30 p.m. Saturday at The Forum in Rome.

The turnover problems that Riverside was able to overcome in its first-round win over Pepperell popped up again Wednesday. The
Eagles gave the ball away on their first six possessions and 20 times total.

“Honestly, I don’t think we handled their pressure very well,” Riverside coach Matt Bohon said. “They took the ball out of our hands a lot. I don’t think they were any better than us. I think it was two evenly matched teams, but they just made us turn it
over a little bit more than we’re used to, and that was the only difference.”

The Eagles tied the score at 40 with 2:24 left in the fourth quarter when John Ogunniya scored on a pass from Brandon McKinney and finished at the free throw line for a three-point play.

Less than a minute later, the Eagles had a chance to break the tie, but turned the ball over. Blessed Trinity’s Sean Rouse converted one of two free throws on the other end, and the Titans held the lead the rest of the way.

Entering the fourth quarter, Blessed Trinity was just 4-for-13 from the foul line, but the Titans were able to keep the ball in the hands of their shooters late in the game.

Senior Ryan LeGates struggled from the field (3-for-16), but atoned by sinking eight of his 10 free throws, including six of eight in the fourth quarter. He led the Titans with 17 points.

“We took some bad shots, but we just shot really poorly from the field,” Blessed Trinity coach Brian Marks said. “LeGates is an excellent shooter for us, and he heated up a little in the second half, but he wasn’t making his shots.

“To Riverside’s credit, though, early in the game we were able to get the ball into the high post, then they did a real good job of taking that away. They were forcing our only opportunities to be deep 3s, and we weren’t shooting well.”

Blessed Trinity claimed a slim lead in the first quarter, using a patient offensive approach to find holes in Riverside’s long 2-3 zone. The Titans went 6-for-11 from the field in the opening quarter, scoring mostly around the basket, and led 13-12 after one

Brandon McKinney kept Riverside close, snatching rebound after rebound, limiting Blessed Trinity to one shot per trip and giving the Eagles extra opportunities on the offensive end.

McKinney led the Eagles with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds, including 11 in the first half. Ogunniya added eight points, six rebounds and two blocks and Dylan Setzekorn had nine points and five rebounds.

Riverside took its first lead of the game early in the third quarter when McKinney and Richard Tribble quickly hit back-to-back field goals.

Two minutes later LeGates hit his first 3-pointer of the game to tie the score, then moments later hit his second, and Blessed Trinity led by five at the end of three quarters.

“I thought my kids showed great heart, and I’m super proud of them,” Bohon said. “(Blessed Trinity) has the best team we’ve played all year.

“It’s one of those situations where I don’t think we lost the game, we just got beat.”
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