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Annie McKenna comes up big for Trinity

It’s not very often that the smallest player on the court will take over a game, but Trinity’s Annie McKenna is not your typical “small” guard.

The 5-4 McKenna scored 10 of her 16 points in the third quarter – six on a pair of 3-pointers and two more on nifty drives to the basket – to help the No. 4 Blazers break a 22-22 halftime tie and defeat Marian Catholic 46-42 in a semifinal at the Montini Christmas Tournament Monday in Lombard.

“My team needed me, so I tried to do the best I could,” McKenna said. “I felt like I needed to start stepping up because my team needed me. I tried to attack them because they started getting in foul trouble. I drove to the basket, then they let me open two times and I hit those shots.”

McKenna officially took over the point guard position in Trinity’s tournament open on Friday. She was the team’s shooting guard the previous two years opposite Lauren Prochaska, who is now a freshman at DePaul.

“They just switched me to point recently,” McKenna said. “They wanted me on the break and back at point. It’s weird now because I’ve been playing half the year at shooting guard, now I have to get used to it. I think I’m starting to get used to it real quick. I‘ve been a point guard all my life.”

No. 5 Marian Catholic (11-2) rallied from an early 15-9 deficit to force a tie at intermission, but McKenna scored on a drive to give Trinity a 26-22 lead early in the second half.

Her first 3-pointer of the quarter extended the advantage to 29-25, and her second from distance caped a 16-6 run that made it 38-28 with 2:42 left in the quarter.

Marian Catholic trailed 42-32 with 4:41 left to play when Teniya Page’s conventional three-point play and a 3-pointer by Zaria Sydnor pulled the Spartans to within 44-42 with 50.8 seconds left. But McKenna and Kaitlin Aylward each hit a free throw in the final 34 seconds to send Trinity into Tuesday’s title game.

Page led Marian Catholic with 18 points and Kauai Bradley added seven points. Aylward had 16 points for Trinity (12-0).

“We talked about it that they [Trinity] had the firepower to have a run,” Marian Catholic coach Dan Murray said. “We said we needed to limit runs. That [third quarter] was really their big run for the game and it was just a little too much for us to overcome.

“I’m proud of my girls that we battled back, staying within themselves. We gave ourselves opportunities at the end so I couldn’t be prouder form that perspective. We’ll use this to make us a better team for the rest of the season.”

Meanwhile, Monday’s win marked another first for McKenna.

“I don’t think I’ve ever beaten Marian Catholic before in my four years on varsity,” she said.