Trenton boys finish third in Christmas tournament

The Tigers edged Taylor County (Perry) on Saturday night for third place at Trenton’s Christmas tournament.

The Trenton boys basketball team struggled offensively on Day 3 of the Smith Asset Management Classic Christmas Tournament at Trenton on Saturday night.

Trenton boys basketball Tyler Perry Sonic Player of Game

However, the Tigers hit some free throws down the stretch to defeat Taylor County (Perry), 43-41, in the third-place game.

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After racing out to a 20-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, Trenton didn’t score its next field goal until there was 47 seconds left in the half.

“We had a very unusual shooting night,” said Trenton coach Cedric Booth. “Usually we don’t shoot that bad, but we had some good looks, and I told my guys they have to keep taking them. If they’re going to be that open, and we’re shooters, you’re going to have to keep taking those shots.”

The shots were falling early.

Sophomore Brandon DeMartino hit two first quarter 3s, while senior Tyler Perry and 8th-grader Nathaniel Ridgell each added one in the opening quarter.

“Nate played really well tonight,” Booth said of Ridgell, who finished with six points on two 3-pointers. “He had some open shots, and he was on tonight. It seems like he was shooting it with more confidence than the rest of them, so he’s coming along. But when we can all put it together, we’ll be a special team.”

After leading by 10 at 38-28 heading into the fourth quarter, the shooting slump returned.

Trenton had zero field goals in the fourth quarter. They survived thanks to five key free throws down the stretch.

Perry hit two free throws with 4:10 to play to give the Tigers (4-4) a 40-39 lead.

“I just got locked in and made sure I made them,” said Perry, who finished with a team-high 14 points.

He also made 1-of-2 free throws with 1:28 left in the game for a 42-41 Trenton lead.

A minute earlier, DeMartino, who finished with 11 points, made 1-of-2 free throws with 2:26 to play to tie the game at 41-41 after the Bulldogs (2-5) took a 41-40 lead on a basket by senior Jayden Florence, who led all scorers with 25 points before fouling out with 2:13 to play.

Junior Mason Smith made 1-of-2 from the line to give Trenton a 43-41 lead with 43 seconds to play.

Booth said his team needs to get better defensively.

“Another part of what we need to work on is closing out games,” Booth said. “A lot of times we’re up, maybe 12-13 points, and teams tend to come back on us. I don’t know if our guys are relaxing and thinking someone is going to lie down, but no one is going to lie down and just let you win. Sometimes during games, you can see what you need to work on in practice and that’s just one of them.”

The loss helped snap a three-game losing streak.

“Coming off of the three-game loss it feels good just to get back on top,” said Perry, who made 9-of-12 from the free throw line.

Trenton, which is playing one of the toughest schedules in Class 1A this year, will host 7A West (Ocala) at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

“It’s not going to do anything but make us better at the end of the year,” Booth said after his team lost to two good teams from out of state during the tournament in Upperman (Tennessee) and Grace Baptist (Mississippi), including double overtime against Upperman. “Sometimes you want to look at your losses, but sometimes you want to look at who your losses are to. That’s a big part of it. The guys understand that.”

Trenton girls game was canceled. The Trenton girls were supposed to face Taylor County’s girls on Saturday, but the Lady Bulldogs had to pull out of the tournament on the final day due to a lack of players.

After falling to Upperman (Tennessee), 57-24, on Thursday, the Lady Tigers (7-4) bounced back with a 63-44 win against 4A Dunnellon (10-2), which defeated 6A East Ridge (Clermont), 71-60, on Saturday for third place.

Trenton girls Jordan Douglas

“One of the best teams that I’ve ever seen on the girls side play basketball and that’s saying a lot because I’ve seen a lot,” Trenton coach Bryant Frye said of Upperman. “Their ball movement is superb.”

Jordan Douglas was the leading scorer with 18 points in the win against Dunnellon as Trenton finished 1-1 in the tournament.

“I was able to scout them a little bit, so I knew more about them than the Upperman team,” Bryant said. “We didn’t turn the ball over as much. So that helped.”

Trenton will host Madison County at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

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