Trinity’s basketball team never allowed St. Xavier to get the upper hand and eliminated the Tigers from the Seventh Region Tournament 51-40 Wednesday night at Bellarmine University’s Knights Hall.
With 6-foot-10 junior Raymond Spalding an intimidating factor on defense, the Shamrocks — No. 2 in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings — trailed only in the opening minutes before rolling to their 27th victory in 32 games.
“It’s always nice to get an early lead, but then you have to execute (on offense) and play good defense,” Trinity coach Mike Szabo said. “I think we did a good job of that.”
Spalding hit 4 of 6 shots and 5 of 8 free throws in his 13-point performance, and he also grabbed 11 rebounds, blocked four shots and came up with two steals. Senior guard Tre’ Ivory also had 13 points as the Shamrocks earned a ticket to Sunday’s 3 p.m. semifinal against Manual at Valley.
Manual (20-10) eliminated Eastern 62-58 Wednesday night. The Crimsons didn’t play Trinity during the regular season.
Szabo said Spalding “did a lot of good things on both ends of the floor.”
Spalding’s first basket ignited a 10-2 spurt that shoved Trinity ahead 11-6. Ivory and Jax Levitch each hit 3-point shots in that run. Levitch finished with nine points on 3-of-4 three-point shooting.
“Boy, did he step up,” Szabo said of the junior, who also had four rebounds. “He gave us a huge lift.”
Levitch’s second 3-pointer put Trinity up 16-9, and his third made it 38-26 right before halftime.
“I just wanted to come out with confidence,” Levitch said. “It felt good to see the ball go through the net.”
Craig Owens, Trinity’s only other senior, scored six points on three putbacks and grabbed six rebounds as the Shamrocks ruled the boards 34-22.
“That’s what he does,” Szabo said. “He brings it every night.”
Trinity went on a 11-0 run for a 40-24 lead late in the third quarter. The biggest margin was 18 at 45-27 after 7-0 spurt that Spalding capped with a field goal and free throw.
St. X (21-9) got within 46-37 with a 10-1 rally capped by Ashanti Burgess’ 3-pointer with 1:48 remaining. The Tigers’ Robert Shaw then stole Trinity’s inbounds pass and went in for a layup, but he was called for an offensive foul.
Shaw, a four-year starter, had 11 points, four rebounds and four assists in his last game for St. X, but he hit only 4 of 15 from the floor and 5 of 9 free throws. Burgess hit two threes and scored 10 points, and Andrew Marquess grabbed eight rebounds.
“We made a great run late, but it’s hard to match up with Trinity because of their size and strength,” St. X coach Kevin Klein said. “When Shaw stole that ball and attempted a layup, he was called for hooking (his defender). We went out swinging.”