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Trinity's Jacob Johnson and Matt Jones celebrate after a comeback victory over Independent on Friday night. Kelly Glasscock/ Correspondent |

Trinity beats Independent 58-55

Published Jan. 10 at 11:29 p.m. | Last updated Jan. 10 at 11:31 p.m.

More than a minute remained on the scoreboard clock Friday when Trinity Academy guard Alex Carro made eye contact with his coach, Steve Miller, and the Knights decided to play for the final shot against Independent.

It certainly made sense, as Trinity and Independent were deadlocked at 53, and the visiting Panthers settled into a zone defense.

But seconds later, Independent switched to a trapping defense, one that left Trinity guard Preston Miller wide open on the right wing.

Miller didn’t hesitate, burying a 20-footer with 42 seconds remaining that boosted Trinity to a 58-55 victory, the Knights’ fourth consecutive win after a 1-3 start.

Miller added a free throw seconds later after Independent turned the ball over to make it 57-53. After teammate Tyler Burns made one of two free throws with 12 seconds to play, Independent’s Sam Gillman and Jack Mitchell missed three-point attempts in the final seconds that would have sent the game to overtime.

“I was shooting good in warmups and I was feeling it,” said Mitchell, a senior who finished with 12 points. “During the game, I didn’t really find many good open shots. I was finally open and I just let it go.”

Trinity (5-3) made seven three-pointers – three in the final quarter – to fend off Independent. Carro made four threes and scored a game-high 22 points, while Matt Jones added 14 points, including a three that tied the score at 53 with 2:35 remaining.

Miller’s improvisation had the blessing of his coach, who earlier signaled to Carro to hold the ball after Independent missed an opportunity to take the lead when Gillman’s shot caromed off.

“We would have held for one, but they kind of came out of their zone a little bit,” Steve Miller said. “Preston had a wide-open look and he can hit those.”

It was the most pivotal moment in a second half that featured six ties and four lead changes. Independent, which got 16 points and 14 rebounds from Jonny Richmond, trailed the entire first half. But the Panthers used their height advantage to lead by as many as five points on two occasions, the last time at 49-44 with 6:20 remaining on Gillman’s follow shot.

“We did some good things and played well as a team,” Independent coach Rob Fields said. “We just made a few silly turnovers, and we had to know where their shooters were at.”

Independent committed 14 turnovers, but free throws were a bigger issue. The Panthers made just 5 of 16, including all four they attempted in the final quarter.

Independent’s final missed free throw came with the score tied and 2:29 remaining. After the teams traded unsuccessful possessions, Trinity was content to play for one shot, but Fields wanted to force the issue.

“I wanted to control our destiny,” Fields said. “We took a chance with the trap there and didn’t rotate. We gave it up to Preston, and he just hit a big shot there.”

Mitchell and Walker Chandler each scored 10 points for Independent (5-3).

“I was concerned the whole week about their size,” Steve Miller said. “They’re so tall and they do a great job of moving the ball. We’re fortunate to get this one.”

Independent1410181355
Trinity178171658

INDEPENDENT: Richmond 16, Mitchell 10, Gillman 6, Miranda 6, Kay 3, Eikleberry 3, Willams 1, Chandler 10. Totals 23 (4) 5-16 55.

TRINITY: Carro 22, Mosley 3, Miller 12, Loon 0, Jones 14, List 2, Burns 5, Shanks 0, Johnson 0. Totals 22 (7) 7-12 58.