By Greg Carey
CHARLESTON — Trinity’s 11 seniors weren’t ready to call it a career just yet.
The veteran-laden Warriors overcame an 11-point deficit with 6:55 remaining and outscored Greenbrier West 21-6 down the stretch to rally for a 52-48 win in the Class A state quarterfinals.
Senior guard Briston Bennett poured in a game-high 29 points — including 13 in the fourth quarter and 21 in the second half — to fuel the comeback.
“I attribute it to our experience,” Trinity coach John Fowkes said. “We never got rattled. The kids believe in each other and you could just tell they weren’t done yet. That’s a tribute to the program we’ve built.”
The victory allowed No. 5-seeded Trinity (21-5) to advance to a semifinal Friday against unbeaten No. 1 Webster County.
For the majority of Wednesday night’s contest, it looked as though fourth-seeded Greenbrier West (21-5) would be the team moving on.
Leading 38-29 to start the fourth quarter, Greenbrier West took its biggest lead of the game at 42-31 on a Cody Lewis layup with 6:55 to play.
“We were up 11 and then kind of got shellshocked,” Cavaliers’ coach Joey Fitzwater said. “We didn’t put the ball in the basket and they made every shot they took.”
By the 5:27 mark, however, the Warriors’ deficit tightened after Bennett’s 3-pointer made it 42-39.
Bennett tied the game at 42 with another trey at the 3:24 mark, and the Warriors took the lead for good 20 seconds later on a Logan Zervos 3.
Bennett made two free throws to stretch the lead to 48-43 with 23 seconds remaining, though Kaiden Pack answered with a 3 for the Cavaliers — their first field goal in 6:42.
Bennett went 4-for-4 at the free-throw line in the final 13 seconds to seal the win.
“Basketball is a really fun game and what I love to do,” Bennett said. “Playing in Charleston, there’s a ton of pressure, media and fans but at the end of the day, it’s still a game. If you can play with a lot of passion and energy that’s when I thrive and my team thrives.”
Said Fowkes: “Briston took over and was a stud in the fourth quarter.”
The Warriors led 14-9, before field goals from Chase Hagy and Riley O’Dell allowed Greenbrier West to cut its deficit to one entering the second quarter.
The Cavaliers clamped down defensively in the second quarter and allowed only seven points. After Trinity’s Josh Hart made a 3 just 27 seconds into the period, Greenbrier West outscored the Warriors 14-4 over the remainder of the half to hold a 27-21 lead.
Trinity had only two points in the paint at halftime, while the Cavaliers had 10.
Bennett’s offense was all the Warriors could muster in the third as he scored all eight of his team’s points.
Noah Midkiff scored seven of his 14 points in the third, which allowed Greenbrier West to take a 38-29 lead into the fourth.