Trinity Catholic’s boys trailed Berean Academy’s basketball team by double digits virtually the entire night.

But Berean’s 12-point lead had shrunk to 42-40 with 50 seconds left when the Celtics put together a stunning 14-4 run.

After a missed free throw, the Celtics had one final chance. Trinity coach Joe Hammersmith elected to try for a victory when a game-winning 3-point attempt by Pierce Billington missed at the final buzzer. Berean barely survived the Celtics’ rally.

“Pierce is a good shooter and he had a good look,” Hammersmith said. “We’ll take that every time.”

Berean’s Dallas Wiebe scored 10 points. Tyler Busenitz scored nine points and Loren Pearce and Kameron Wiebe added eight apiece. Berean improved to 5-2 overall and 1-1 in the Heart of America League.

“That was a nice victory against a good Trinity team,” said Berean coach Lewis Wiebe. “Trinity did a nice job trapping the basketball and they made a couple of 3-pointers. We had played some good basketball to build the lead.”

The Celtics (3-4, 2-1 HOA) appeared in trouble all night against a patient Berean team, which made six 3-pointers. A 3-pointer by Tyler Busenitz handed the Warriors a 38-26 lead.

But the Celtics rallied behind 3-pointers by Dillon Walls and Brenden Miller and baskets by C.J. Watson and Jerome Miller on an assist by Billington to get within 40-36. Jerome Miller blocked a shot and Brenden Miller drew a charge as the Celtics forced several turnovers with an aggressive trapping defense.

Berean’s Loren Pearce made two free throws, which were answered by Chance Clark’s basket. Watson’s steal and driving layup made it 42-40 to get Trinity’s crowd sensing an amazing comeback.

“We’ve got a really coachable group that has matured on and off the court,” Hammersmith said. “They all buy-into the way that we’re playing and how we need everyone to contribute.”

Hammersmith said the Celtics executed their defensive game plan by pressuring the basketball and negating the Warriors’ inside game. Trinity was hurt by 14 turnovers.

“We did a lot of the things we wanted defensively,” Hammersmith said. “What hurt us was the spots where we turned it over and broke down on offense.”

Chance Clark led the Celtics with 10 points. Watson and Brenden Miller added seven points apiece.

Berean built a 38-26 lead with six 3-pointers and 6 of shooting the third period.

“We did a good job shooting the ball,” Wiebe said. “We’ve got five players who can made the 3-pointer. We beat a fine Trinity basketball team tonight.”

Trinity plays at Moundridge and Berean Academy plays at Marion Tuesday.

Trinity Catholic girls 44, Berean Academy 34 – Berean Academy led 6-0. Standout point guard Brooke Racette drew two quick fouls, but Hutchinson Trinity coach Ricky Snyder wasn’t too concerned.

Snyder guessed right when he played a hunch and kept playing Racette, his point guard who keeps everything rolling.

“I had confidence Brooke would be fine,” Snyder said. “She’s a great player who has the ability to find gaps and see her teammates.”
Five Racette assists later, the Celtics held a 24-14 halftime edge behind Racette’s clever passing and determined dribbling. Racette was an equal opportunity passer by finding teammates Madison Watson, Mariah Hammersmith, Konner Brening, Brigid Reilly and Libby Reimer.

Racette led the Celtics with 12 points, but her passing and ballhandling were the difference in the ballgame. Brening scored 11 points and Hammersmith added eight points.

“My goal was to just play smart and not use my hands on defense,” Racette said. “I like to get everyone involved. I have confidence in all of my teammates. It feels good to beat a Berean we had not defeated in a long time. We did a good job working the ball inside and working it back outside.”

The Celtics (6-1, 3-0 HOA) are tied for first place in the league heading to Tuesday’s showdown against perennial league contender Moundridge. Berean dropped to 4-3 overall and 1-1 in league.

“We like where we are, but we’ll definitely find out more about our team next week at Moundridge and Andale at home,” Snyder said. “I can’t be more pleased right now.”

Snyder kept encouraging his team to continue hustling defensively. After trailing 6-0, the Celtics outscored the Warriors 24-8 behind an effective trapping defense and Racette’s sparkling passing. Berean made 2 of 17 field goals after making its first two tries.

“We did a good job contesting every shot,” Snyder said. “Our posts are a shade undersized, but they do a great job battling. We did a good job rebounding the basketball.”

Berean’s Carrie Unruh scored 14 points and freshman Megan Hendrickson added 12 points. The Warriors’ inside players were a handful for Trinity. But the Warriors’ other players contributed eight points and 3 of 22 shooting from the field. The Warriors never got closer than eight points after halftime.

“We knew Trinity was awfully quick, and they exploited their strengths of defense and rebounding better our strength of our inside scoring,” said Berean coach Kristin Wiebe. “Trinity did a nice job with their pressure defense. The game got away from us in the second quarter.”

Wiebe said she was pleased with the hustle and effort.

“We got a good effort from the girls,” she said. “The second half, we played better and worked the ball inside. But that second quarter cost us.”