Willoughby Hills, OH- Coach Babe Kwasniak's team didn't play its best game on Tuesday night, but ultimately used the charity stripe to put the pesky Trinity Trojans (12-9) away late in the game.
Cornerstone Christian Academy (17-4) lead by sophomore star Quinn "Turtle" Kwasniak and running mate senior big man DJ Niles carried the Patriots to a nasty, but much needed win over Trinity.
Coming into the game, the Patriots were winners of four of their last five, but needed the last two wins to carry sense of momentum into the district tournament. The Trojans on the other hand are one of the underrated scrappy teams looking to knock off of the premier programs in the area.
"We stunk tonight" said Patriots head coach Babe Kwasniak post game. "Hats off to Trinity. Coach (Dan Urban) has those guys playing hard and they might've saved their best game for tonight against us".
Trinity indeed gave the Patriots their best shot, with 12 of 13 guys on the roster scoring at least four points in the game.
The Patriots led after quarter one by a slim 13-10 lead, but Trinity quickly tied the game at 20 off a triple from junior guard Damarion Hall. Kwasniak and sophomore guard Carter Armstrong finished the quarter off strong with a triple and two layups to take a commanding 34-27 lead into the halftime break.
The Trojans started the second half on a strong 8-4 run, before Niles and Trojan junior wing Carlen Morris exchanged and-ones to keep the Patriot lead at 7. Kwasniak, whom has shown shooting traits of NBA superstar Stephen Curry, dealt with back pains throughout the game. Coach Kwas could be seen motivating his player and coaching him to mentally overcome the pain and keep fighting due to the Patriots needing him. As Quinn sat on the bench, the Patriots turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions, providing some much needed momentum for the Trojans. Kwasniak was instantly inerted back into the game and provided an alley oop pass to senior center Deshaun Vaden giving the Patriots a 50-41 lead.
Trinity kept the fourth interesting, keeping the deficit under 10 points the entire fourth. Kwasniak fouled Hall on a what would have been four point play, but Hall missed the free throw to keep the Patriots lead at 7. The Trojans took advantage of the late game mistakes to cut their deficit to as many as four off a Eric Snow steal and layup that frustrated Coach Kwas. Turtle knocked in four late free throws to push the Patriots to victory in a sloppy fight that Coach Kwas knows he has to fix with all eyes set on a possible trip to Dayton, OH next month for the Division IV State Championship.
DJ Niles led the Patroits with a double-double of 22 points and over 10 rebounds. Kwasniak scored 20. Armstrong scored 14. Leading for Trinity was sophomore guard Aiden Duncan with 14 points.
The Patriots cap off their regular season hosting the International Sports Academy also out of Willoughby. The Trojans also finish their regular season at home hosting Open Door Christian Academy.