The game was Trigg County’s first in nine days, a stretch marked by Christmas and a heavy snow the limited practice time.
"We’re not real happy with the effort we gave tonight," Wildcat assistant coach Jeff Embrey told WKDZ Radio after the game. "The long layoff may have had something to do with it. We just ran out of gas early and never got on track."
Both teams were back and forth early, with the Wildcats leading 22-17 after one quarter and 43-34 at halftime.
But the pace significantly slowed in the second half as the Wildcats built a 41-29 lead midway through the third quarter.
St. Mary closed to within 55-47 after three quarters and scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter to take a 56-55 lead.
Russell Mackins hit one of two free throws to tie the game at 62 with 1:51 left but fouled out with 1:08 left in the game. The Wildcat sophomore had been Trigg’s leader on offense, scoring 26 points and grabbing 14 rebounds before his departure.
After St. Mary missed the front end of a bonus free throw, Rodney Davis hit one-of-two free throws to give the Wildcats a 63-62 lead with a minute left.
Davis, playing in just hi s second game since transferring in from Martin, Tennessee, scored ten of his 11 points in the first half.
After a Wildcat blocked shot, Davis fed T.J. O’Hara for a transition layup to give the Wildcats a 65-62 lead with 24 seconds left.
O’Hara put together another solid game, scoring 11 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
"T.J. made some key plays late and supported Russell well on the inside," Embrey said of the junior forward.
Jonathon Byrd canned two free throws for St. Mary with 16 seconds left to trim the deficit to one point, but Jeremy Jones was fouled and canned two free throws to push the Wildcat lead back to 67-64 with 15 seconds left.
Jones struggled to find his rhythm, scoring just 12 points – half his season average.
After St. Mary’s Dylan Oliver hit a free throw with six seconds left to make the score 67-64, O’Hara sealed the win with a free throw with four seconds left.
The Wildcats hit five of their last nine free throws but missed their previous eight and finished just 5-of-17 (29-percent) at the charity stripe.
Jamaal Boyd battled foul trouble and finished with six points, and Zack Wright added two.
St. Mary (2-4) got 17 points from sophomore Dylan Oliver.
The Wildcats improved to 6-1 with the win and were scheduled to play Lake County, Tennessee Tuesday night.
Trigg’s stay in Illinois will continue Wednesday when they play Cairo, Ill. at 8:30 p.m.
The Wildcats will play two games Thursday, facing Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin (Ill.) at 2 p.m. and host Marion (Ill.) at 9 p.m.
Trigg’s next home game will be Tuesday against Livingston Central as part of a boys/girls doubleheader at Wildcat Gym.