By John Kovach
YOUNGSTOWN — It seems like every time East and Ursuline get together on the basketball court, no lead is big enough for either team and the game goes down to the wire with the outcome hanging in the balance as the clock ticks down.
Such was the case Friday night at the Irish gym in a rematch between the two rivals, as Ursuline surged to a 36-24 lead early in the third quarter only to allow East to rally to a 61-48 advantage with about 3:00 left.
Then the Irish battled back again to pull to within 70-68, but Dakota Trosky’s 3-point attempt for Ursuline at the buzzer fell short, and the Panthers escaped with a 70-68 win in a battle of comebacks to make it a 2-0 season sweep over their cross-town rival.
Trumaine Jenkins delivered the win for East when he stole the ball and made a basket to make it 70-65 with about 25 seconds left.
Then Trosky hit a goal and foul shot with 12.4 seconds remaining and, after the Panthers missed two foul shots, Trosky’s 3-point attempt was short and nipped the front of the rim to end the game.
Coach Mark Cherol of East (12-4) lauded Jenkins, who scored a team-high 16 points, including 10 in the final quarter and the last four of the game, and also had six rebounds, seven assists and five steals for an outstanding overall showing.
“Jenkins was playing hard, He had a positive feeling in the game and when he has that feeling he is hard to stop,” said Cherol. “Jenkins was a big difference in the last quarter.”
Before making what turned out to be the game-winning basket, Jenkins also scored another big goal that put East up by 68-65 with about a minute left.
Jarelle Burt also sparked the Panthers’ well-balanced attack with 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals, while Tyrell Henry delivered 10 points, four rebounds and two steals, and Norman Johnson 10 points, three assists and two steals.
Devonte Jenkins led Ursuline with 19 points, 12 rebounds three steals and two assists, while Trosky added 15 points and 10 rebounds, Atiim Smith 12 points and eight rebounds and Craig Washington nine points.
Behind Trosky and Smith, the Irish (5-12) dominated the rebounds, 42-24.
Cherol also praised his defense and bench.
“Our defense created the turnovers and we turned them into baskets,” said Cherol, whose quick and harassing defense gave the Panthers a 21-7 advantage in steals, and made Ursuline work just to bring the ball down the court.
“We got good play from our bench — Antonio Woods, Lee Johnson and Trevon Kimbrough. They gave us some good minutes off the bench.”
Cherol said his team “never gives up, but we still are not playing smart. We had too many careless turnovers.”
Ursuline also wasn’t about to quit, even after Trumaine Jenkins scored back-to-back goals to give East its 13-point lead, 61-48.
The Irish, behind balanced scoring, proceeded to out-score the Panthers by 20-9 to draw within 70-68 to set the stage for Trosky’s final-seconds shot.