There was no dash to the center of the floor for the ceremonial dogpile at the end of the game. No banners were hoisted, no plaques were handed out. In fact, the Trinity girls basketball team had no understanding of its accomplishment at the end of the game.
Moments after the Wildcats blasted Leeds 76-42 by forcing 39 turnovers, they finally learned they were the first Trinity girls team since the state tournament squad in 1999-2000 to reach the regionals.
“I couldn’t be more happy or proud,” said senior point guard Marley Sport, a three-sport standout who said the subregional victory ranked “way up there” on her accomplishments at the school. “We worked hard every practice. We knew our speed was going to be the key. We used it tonight. Leeds was a really good team, but we shut them down. Their best player got in foul trouble, so that hurt them pretty bad, and we took advantage of it.”
Trinity (18-8) will face Greensboro, a 65-31 winner over Holt, in Alabama State’s Acadome at noon Thursday in the Class 3A Central Regional.
After failing to make it out of the area last season, second-year coach Blake Smith followed up the Area 5 tournament title win over B.B. Comer — the first at the school since 1999 — with another milestone on Thursday.
“I think, more than anything, it was having those girls play like I know they’re capable of playing on a big stage when the pressure’s on,” Smith said. “They just came out and let it go. I’m just thankful for them. They got to see balls go in the basket. We see them go in every day at practice, but you’re just not assured that’s going to happen in a game.”
It was one of the better shooting performances by the Wildcats this season, and the transition game that came from forcing turnovers took the Green Wave out of its offense early. After Leeds guard Devin Hess drove the lane for a layup and a 17-16 lead with 6:06 remaining in the second quarter, Trinity responded with a 15-0 run aided by four turnovers.
Leeds, which had seven turnovers in the first quarter, committed 12 in the second period, resulting in a 40-25 Trinity lead at the half. Things only got worse in the third quarter as the Green Wave had 14 turnovers, including seven on consecutive possessions, as the Wildcats opened the second half with an 18-0 run against the taller Leeds lineup.
“You see some big girls,” Smith said, “but you know, our post players, who aren’t very big, did a great job of boxing them out and rebounding. I was real impressed with how they played.”
Senior Joy Funderburk (5-foot-9), junior Leeanne Phillips (5-8) and junior Janie Hampton (5-3) kept the inside duo of Fucisha Stephens and Breana Allen from dominating in the paint, even though the pair combined for 22 rebounds and six blocked shots.
“Going into the game, my coach told me they had a 6-1 girl (Stephens), a 6-foot girl (Allen) and another 6-foot girl (Ericka Byers) and told me I was guarding one of them,” Hampton said. “I was really nervous, being kind of small and guarding a big girl, but we ended up doing pretty good on them.”
Allen led Leeds (8-13) with 18 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots, followed by Hess with 16.
Hampton led Trinity with 24 points and 10 rebounds, followed by Claire Wilder with 15 points, Phillips with 12 and Sport with 11.