Trust isn't always easy to come by between a basketball coach and his point guard.
Sometimes for the player to earn it, he must first give it.
Sunday afternoon at La Salle High, junior point guard Allen Powell III rewarded coach Joe Dempsey's faith with a floater in the lane that gave the Explorers a 60-58 win in a Catholic League thriller against Conwell-Egan.
"I came a long way," said Powell, who finished with 16 points. "Freshman year, sophomore year, junior year. I put in work every day. When we're at practice, I'm always working, and then for it to pay off with that shot right there is a great feeling."
Powell confidently cradled the ball near midcourt and rocked his defender side to side with his dribble as seconds ticked away.
A left-to-right crossover bought him freedom. His finish with just 1.3 seconds remaining might have bought him something more important.
"I think he's starting to trust us now," said Dempsey, who earned his 200th win (in his 14th season) on Dec. 29.
"And now we trust him," Dempsey added later. "We gave him the ball, I told him we'd be doing that his junior year. He's making good decisions and he's playing well."
Powell, who sometimes played behind senior guards Jarrod Stukes and Matt Paulus last season, had pressed as a sophomore and tried to do too much, both he and Dempsey said.
This season, however, Powell's poise has improved, and so have the Explorers (9-2, 2-0).
On Sunday, each team required a quarter to thaw out from the weather-related cancellations earlier this week.
After one frame, La Salle led by just 6-4. By intermission, the pace and intensity had quickened.
Behind senior guard Patrick Robinson, the Eagles (3-4, 0-2) whittled a 12-point deficit to two by halftime.
Robinson finished with a game-high 30 points on 12-of-17 shooting, while Joe Baldachino added nine.
The Eagles also trailed by six in the final frame before taking a one-point edge with 3 minutes, 24 seconds left after a Robinson and-one.
Their lead grew to five before La Salle senior Sean Simon eventually hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 58 with just over a minute remaining.
Simon (13 points) also added an important offensive rebound with about 25 seconds left, which helped La Salle control the ball for nearly the entire final minute.
That was when the ball found its way into Powell's hands.
"It's pressure, but you got to deal with that," he said. "Being a junior, I'm ready for it and I was ready to take the shot."
In addition to Powell and Simon, La Salle had two other players scoring in double figures: seniors Zach Crisler (12 points) and Konrad Kiszka (11). Each also added nine rebounds and blocked two shots.
La Salle 6 20 15 19 60
Conwell-Egan 4 20 16 18 58
LS: Allen Powell 16, Sean Simon 13, Zach Crisler 12, Konrad Kiszka 11, Titus Beard 8.