Trinity Catholic junior guard Greg Maxwell scored a game-high 29 points and senior point guard Ashton Lovette added 11 points and seven assists, leading the host Celtics to a 65-59 victory against The Rock on Friday night.
The loss dropped independent The Rock, MaxPrep’s 13th-ranked team in the state regardless of classification, to 15-5 on the season. The hard-fought victory improved Trinity Catholic, the eighth-ranked team in Class 3A, to 16-3.
"Very intense and back and forth all night," Celtics coach Carlos Villalobos said. "I told my guys at the beginning of the year that if they play to their potential, they can play with anybody. We're not satisfied, we've got to take it one day at a time and see if we can get better because we have other goals we want to achieve beside winning one game on one night.
“Greg played under control, didn't settle, got to the rim, hit key threes late in the game and I'm happy for him because he's put a lot of work in the last few weeks."
Trinity Catholic takes early lead
Trinity took the early momentum as senior center Elijah Russell, who had 10 rebounds to go with three blocks, scored three points and Lovette scored eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers to give the Celtics a 15-8 lead heading to the second period.
The Lions stayed within striking distance as former North Marion sophomore center Sammie Yeanay, who transferred to The Rock during the Christmas holidays, scored eight of his team-high 19 points.
Trinity extended its lead as Maxwell buried a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 28-18 with 2:52 remaining in the quarter.
The Rock cut into the deficit as Dallas Jones, who had 12 points, drilled a 3-pointer and the 6-foot-8 Yeanay threw down a monster dunk off a rebound at the buzzer to leave the Lions trailing 32-25 at the half.
The teams traded baskets in the third quarter until Trinity Catholic senior Jeremiah Russell drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Celtics a 44-35 lead heading to the final eight minutes.
The Rock made a run, as Moses Horne scored 10 of his 15 points and Yeanay added five. But Trinity Catholic's LJ Pugh hit a key 3-pointer from the top of the key and Maxwell poured in 16 points in the final stanza to give the Celtics a 62-57 lead with 19 seconds left in the game.
The Rock missed a three-point attempt which Trinity rebounded and the Lions were forced to foul.
The Celtics made their free throws in the closing seconds to seal the victory.
"We have to come back to work tomorrow and continue to get better," Villalobos said. "LJ has great range and is a big-time shooter. He was our leading scorer last year, so he has sacrificed a lot this year and he knows he can knock down shots.”
Trinity Catholic is back on the hardwood with a home game on Tuesday night against Buchholz. The Rock is at home on Tuesday night against Central Pointe Christian Academy.
This article originally appeared on Ocala Star-Banner: High school: Trinity Catholic knocks off The Rock in boys basketball