High school basketball: Benedictine upends Trinity on Senior Night behind Winstead (2024)

It was senior night at Benedictine on Wednesday, and whom did the Cadets’ faithful supporters expect to deliver the goods when the outcome of their game with Trinity Episcopal weighed in the balance?

Ummm … let’s see. The seniors, maybe?

“Absolutely,” said Bill Dooley, their first-year head coach, following his guys’ thrilling, come-from-way-behind 68-61 victory over the Titans on the Rut Court in the packed-to-the-gills McMurtrie-Reynolds Pavilion. “Everybody that came onto the court stepped up in the second half.”

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In the first half, not so much.

The Titans opened quickly, defended with spirit, shot lights out and took a 40-26 lead into the locker room.

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Against the Cadets’ man-to-man, they hit 16 of their 26 field goal attempts, some from the paint, some from mid-range, and four (including three by Alex Chaikin in a span of 1:20 in the first quarter) from behind the arc.

“We just were not ourselves in the first half,” said Dooley, who has paid his coaching dues at both the college (including University of Richmond) and high school level. “Trinity’s a good team. If you don’t really guard them, they can score, which they showed in the first half.

“We weren’t ready to go. I didn’t like our defensive intensity. Giving up 40 points is unacceptable.”

Surrendering just 21 while limiting Trinity to 6-for-22 shooting and forcing nine turnovers in the second half certainly was.

“Really, not one guy but several guys stepped up,” Dooley said. “It’s a team. When we’re playing like a team, we’re at our best.”

Chaikin’s bucket from close range at 6:34 of the third period put Trinity up 42-26.

Though down 16 points, the Cadets were undeterred.

At 6:18, M.J. Winstead, aligned on the left wing, found a seam in the Titans’ man-to-man and lofted a shot from the paint that spun three times around the hoop before dropping through the net. The high-decibel partisan crowd roared its approval. Winstead completed the and-one.

Their comeback had begun.

“I work hard every day,” said Winstead, a 6-0 senior guard. “I kept talking to myself: ‘M.J., you got this. You’ve worked all your life for this. Now go get it.’ When you work hard, the game will come to you.”

So, it did. Absolutely, it did.

After the break, Winstead scored 23 of his game-high 30 points. He drained two 3’s, one of which, with 3:43 remaining in the game, gave his guys a 57-55 lead they never relinquished. He scored five times from the paint after slicing his way through the Trinity defense. He also connected on 7-of-9 free throws.

“I was just reading the help side (of Trinity’s defense),” Winstead said. “I just looked my lane and made a move.”

Trinity led 52-44 after three quarters, but the Cadets were inspired and rolling.

Two buckets from close range by Will Hopkins in the first minute of the fourth cut Trinity’s lead to 52-48.

Two minutes later, the Cadets missed three consecutive chip shots amidst the flailing arms of the Trinity defenders but secured offensive rebounds after each.

Connor Pleasants, a 6-3 senior guard stationed on the perimeter, took a kick-out pass following the third and calmly drained a 3-pointer to cut Benedictine’s deficit to 52-51.

On the Cadets’ next possession, he drained another from the left wing to put his guys up 54-52 and send the crowd into a state of delirium.

As the action intensified to fever pitch, Trinity’s Chaikin lofted a 3 from near the Benedictine student section, drew a foul, ignored the pressure, and swished his three attempts to put the visitors up 55-54 at 4:22.

After Winstead’s dead- solid-perfect 3-ball gave the Cadets the lead, senior Luca Puccinelli scored from the lane off Winstead’s pass en route to Benedictine’s 14-6 run to end the game.

“We started off a little slow, but we got back into it,” said Colin Mitchell, a 6-5 senior forward who scored 14 points, eight of which came in the first quarter on two 3-pointers and a short hook off an inbounds pass from Winstead.

“Our energy in the second half was much better. When we play our best, our defense translates to our offense because our defense is who we are. We’re a gritty team. We played to the end.”

The Cadets shot 23-for-55, collected 36 rebounds, and nine turnovers. Trinity’s ledger read 22-for-48 accuracy from the field, 31 rebounds, and 16 turnovers.

“Our guys knew they didn’t put forth what they could in the first half,” Dooley said. “In the second half, we played like we’re capable of playing. We got to the basket. We got after them defensively. The (man-to-man) press was effective. We were just more aggressive. We got stops. We created turnovers that helped us. Really, it was the defensive end of the court that got us back into the game and won us the game.”

Trinity Episcopal 20 20 12 9 – 61

Benedictine 13 13 18 24 – 68

Trinity Episcopal (15-10) – Coles 8, Thompson 3, Gregory 8, Chaikin 19, Nelson 4, Patrick 17, Mason 0, Walker 0, Carter 2, Ervin 2. Totals: 22 11-16 61.

Benedictine (17-6) – Winstead 30, Hopkins 9, Pleasants 7, O’Brien 0, Puccinelli 6, Miller 2, Toulson 0, Mitchell 14, Villegas 0, Williams 0. Totals: 23 16-21 68.

3-point goals: Trinity Episcopal – Chaikin 4, Coles, Thompson. Benedictine – Winstead 2, Pleasants 2, Mitchell 2.

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High school basketball: Benedictine upends Trinity on Senior Night behind Winstead (2024)
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