If Trinity hoped to truly make a deep run in the Class 4A playoffs, a victory over top-seeded sectional host and defending state champion Whitney Young would likely be required.
The Blazers accomplished that difficult objective by defeating the Dolphins 37-36 at Whitney Young in the championship game of the sectional on Thursday.
Trinity junior Annie McKenna, who had been struggling all night offensively (3-for-15 from the field) made a basket when it counted most. The unflappable point guard converted a layup with 28.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter to give Trinity a 37-36 lead.
“Coach [Ed Stritzel] told me to attack the basket,” McKenna said. “The lane opened up and I just went for it. I wasn’t really thinking about it [after I made the shot]. I was just focused on getting back on defense and making sure [Whitney Young] didn’t get an open basket.”
The win was significant on several levels. Trinity (27-4) advances to Monday’s Mother McAuley Supersectional final (7:30 p.m.) against Homewood-Floosmoor, which defeated Marian Catholic. The Blazers also won their first sectional title since 2010 while snapping the Dolphins’ gaudy 127-game winning streak on their home court, which they fondly refer to as, “the pool.” Trinity gained a measure of revenge as well after Whitney Young (28-2) defeated them 60-49 in Jan. 31 and 58-45 in last year’s sectional final.
With Trinity trailing 36-30 with 3:04 remaining in the fourth quarter, McKenna made two free throws to pull her team within four points. Junior Kaitlin Aylward drained a three-pointer from the left side – Trinity’s first field goal of the fourth quarter – to whittle the deficit to 36-35. McKenna’s aforementioned game-winning layup capped off a seven-point run to close the game.
“I just wanted to make sure I did as much as I can to help my team win,” Aylward said. “I don’t usually get the opportunity to shoot those three-pointers, but Annie [McKenna] drove to the basket and they doubled her on defense. I popped up with a three and she gave me a perfect pass.”
Whitney Young missed two field goal attempts in the closing seconds before Trinity freshman Alisa Fallon secured a rebound.
Aylward led Trinity with 13 points, while McKenna and freshman Lauren Lee contributed six points apiece.