It’s not often an opponent can match Trinity High School’s defense and toughness on the basketball court, but Newport Central Catholic did it Tuesday night.
And behind one of the state’s biggest frontcourts, the Thoroughbreds ended the Shamrocks’ nearly three-year unbeaten streak at home.
Drew McDonald scored 14 points and Jake Schulte added 11 as NewCath knocked off Trinity 45-44 in a matchup of top-five teams in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings.
No. 3 Trinity (23-5) saw its 25-game winning streak at Steinhauser Gymnasium snapped. The Shamrocks’ previous loss at home came to Ballard, 73-62, in a 27th District Tournament semifinal on Feb. 23, 2011.
“To beat Trinity at home is huge,” NewCath coach Ron Dawn said. “There’s not many people who come in here and do that, especially from outside of Louisville.”
The No. 5 Thoroughbreds (25-3) provide matchup problems for nearly every team in the state, with a starting lineup that includes the 6-foot-7 junior McDonald, the 6-8 senior Schulte and 6-6 sophomore Ben Weyer.
The Shamrocks countered with 6-10 junior Raymond Spalding, who finished with eight points and eight rebounds but battled foul trouble. Tre’ Ivory led Trinity with 15 points, and Craig Owens added 10.
Trinity coach Mike Szabo said losing the rebounding battle 25-22 was key, as were several long scoring droughts for his team.
“We need to get tougher and finish around the basket and work for position a little better and get more aggressive going to the rim rather than fading,” Szabo said. “I didn’t think we went right at them tonight.”
The Shamrocks missed their first nine shots before Owens’ 3-pointer at the 1:39 mark of the first quarter finally got them on the board. NewCath led 18-17 at halftime and never trailed in the second half.
Owens’ layup tied the score at 23 with 5:01 left in the third quarter, but the Shamrocks managed just one point over the next 4:47 as the Thoroughbreds expanded their lead.
“We were trying to get into their bodies, but we couldn’t buy a shot today,” said Owens, who along with Ivory was honored before the game as part of Trinity’s Senior Night festivities. “Everything we got up around the rim was in and out. … It came at a bad time tonight, especially with it being Senior Night.”
Schulte’s basket gave NewCath a 42-36 lead with 50.6 seconds left, but Trinity had a final run as the Thoroughbreds got sloppy with the ball. Ivory’s basket pulled the Shamrocks within 42-39 with 39 seconds left. After a NewCath turnover, Spalding scored and was fouled with 31.3 seconds remaining. But he missed the free throw that would have tied the game.
Grant Moeves sank two free throws to give NewCath a 44-41 lead with 23.3 seconds left, and Trinity committed a turnover with 9.1 seconds remaining. McDonald sank 1 of 2 free throws for a 45-41 lead with 7.7 seconds left, and Ivory sank a 3-pointer just before the buzzer for the final margin.
It was Trinity’s fourth loss this season to a top-five team in Kentucky.
The Shamrocks will close their regular season Friday, hosting Christian Academy, before facing Atherton in a 27th District semifinal next Wednesday at Waggener. Szabo said the tough schedule should have his team ready for the postseason.
“It’s been good for us,” he said. “It’s all about getting ready and building something. (NewCath) exposed a few of our weaknesses, and we’ll get back to work and try to improve those areas.”
Newport Central Catholic (25-3) – Pangallo 2, G. Moeves 7, McDonald 14, Schulte 11, T. Moeves 8, Weyer 3.
Trinity (23-5) – Ivory 15, Levitch 1, Ramser 6, Knight-Goff 2, Stafford 2, Owens 10, Spalding 8.
3-point goals – G. Moeves, McDonald, T. Moeves 2; Ivory, Ramser, Owens.