Huntingtown High School graduate Trevon Jenifer completed a stellar journey as the member of the USA men’s wheelchair basketball team that captured the gold medal on Sunday afternoon with a 64-60 victory over host Japan in the Paralympics championship game at Ariake Arena in Tokyo.
Team USA was tied at 18-all after the first quarter then forged a mild 32-27 halftime advantage. But the host Japanese squad took a tepid 46-45 lead into the fourth quarter and gradually extended the advantage to 56-51 with less than six minutes remaining. The next three minutes would prove to be pivotal.
Team USA countered with an 8-0 run that gave the American squad a 59-56 lead with two minutes to play, and that sparked a 13-4 spurt to end the game and vault the squad to gold medal history.
Team USA captain Steve Serio led the way with 28 points and added nine assists, Jacob Williams added 13 points, and Jenifer was next with nine points and four rebounds.
“Japan was the Cinderella story of this tournament,” Serio said. “But you couldn’t ask for a more storybook ending for us. We didn’t get the start that we wanted, but we definitely got the finish we wanted.”
Team USA advanced to the gold medal game by defeating Spain 66-52, while Japan upset Great Britain, which had defeated Team USA in pool play. In the victory over Spain, Brian Bell led the way with 20 points, Williams added 16, Matt Scott had 12 and Jenifer chipped in three points. In the bronze medal game, Great Britain defeated Spain 68-58.
In the quarterfinals, Team USA defeated Turkey 52-45, as Bell led the way with 18 points, Serio had 11, Williams collected nine and Jenifer scored two.
Team USA went 4-1 in pool play, with a lopsided 86-25 victory over Algeria that was preceded by a 66-38 victory over Australia. Team USA had opened pool play with a pair of wins before falling to Great Britain in a very tight 64-63 game.
This was Jenifer’s third Paralympics and his second wheelchair men’s basketball gold medal as a member of Team USA. He had previously won gold medal at the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, four years after Team USA settled for bronze in the Paralympics in London.