Knights eke out nailbiter in Edmonton
Basketball: Holy Trinity Academy finishes second at Father Troy Tourney
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 13, 2013 12:23 pm
A Holy Trinity Academy Knight picked the perfect time to end a dry-spell.
The Knights’ Matt Vant Erve had a shooting percentage lower than the value of a penny when Holy Trinity Academy (HTA) coach Sam Aiello drew up a play to give the Grade 12 forward a chance to win the game in front of a hostile crowd against the St. Joseph Saints in the semifinal of the 30th annual Father Michael Troy tournament Friday in Edmonton.
“We were down 75-74 with 1.8 seconds left and Sam drew up a play where I took the shot,” Vant Erve said. “I was really surprised he chose me because I was even missing layups. I’m glad that he had the confidence in me to give me the ball.”
Vant Erve got open at the top of the three-point circle thanks to a perfect screen by Grade 10 guard Dylan Wheeler. The Knights’ Kyler Helinsky hit Vant Erve on the numbers with the inbound pass, and he drove the basket and laid in a jump shot – while being fouled — with .5 seconds left to give HTA a 76-75 lead over the host St. Joe’s Saints.
Vant Erve’s hot streak ended when he stepped to the line and he made the foul shot. He was supposed to miss – just hit the rim to start the clock, preventing the Saints from setting up a play.
“I just kind of hucked it up there and it went in,” Vant Erve said.
The Knights were able to hold off the Saints for the final half-second for the victory.
Aiello called the game “the craziest he had been in 17 years of coaching.”
He said the small gym was packed with 500 fans and all of them, except for a few Okotoks moms and dads, wanting a St. Joe’s victory.
“We wanted to get off to a good start and take the crowd out of the game,” Aiello said. “We didn’t.”
The Knights found themselves behind 69-60 with just over three minutes left in the game when Wheeler hit a three-point shot from about Whitemud Avenue to close the gap to 69-63. Wheeler, who was named a tournament all-star, then stole the in-bound pass and went up for a layup to cut the lead to 69-65.
The Knights battled back to take a short-lived 74-73 lead with 1.8 seconds left, when a Saint went to the foul line. After the Saint made the first shot to tie the game at 74-74, Aiello alertly told the official he wanted a time out if the St. Joe’s shooter made the next foul shot. The shot was made to give the Saints a 75-74 lead, but thanks to Aiello’s time out, the Knights were able to inbound the pass from near centre court.
The Knights were then able to make the pass to Vant Erve en route to the 77-75 victory. Wheeler led the Knights in scoring with 31 points. Helinsky finished with 25.
The thrilling victory gave the Knights’ their first trip to the Michael Troy final since they won the tournament in 2009. They didn’t have the same result four years later.
Holy Trinity Academy was thumped 83-58 by the Archbishop MacDonald Marauders from Edmonton in the final on Saturday.
Helinsky led the Knights in scoring with 21 points.
Aiello said the Marauders are a strong 4A (more than 799 students) school.
The Knights opened the tournament Thursday with a 95-50 victory over the Archbishop Jordan Scots. The victory wasn’t a surprise, but who led HTA in scoring was. First-year high school post Nick Peloso had 27 points, while hard-working Jordan Lee finished with 24.
“It was good to see those guys get the points,” Aiello said. The Knights will resume Foothills Athletic Council action this week when they take on the first-place Foothills Falcons at HTA Feb. 13 at 7:15 p.m. The Knights have not beaten the Falcons since 2007.