The Trinity High School basketball team showed why it is the heavy favorite to win the Kentucky state championship Tuesday night.
The host Shamrocks routed Jeffersonville 77-38 in the season opener for both.
Senior guard Michael Stafford scored a game-high 20 points while senior center and University of Louisville recruit Ray Spalding added 14 for Trinity, the overwhelming choice as the No. 1 team in The Courier-Journal’s preseason coaches’ poll.
“All these guys are really focused on winning and trying to win a state championship,” Trinity coach Mike Szabo said.
The Shamrocks, who return three starters from a team that went 31-6 and lost in the state semifinals last season, made quick work of the undersized, outmanned Red Devils.
Trinity used first-half runs of 12-0 and 22-0 in building a 40-10 halftime lead.
The 6-foot-2 Stafford, who averaged 7.5 points per game last season, scored 16 points in the first 16 minutes.
“When he’s dialed in, fired up and intense, he’s as good as any guard there is,” Szabo said.
Stafford scored nine points in the first quarter and seven points in the second.
“I spent a lot of time in the weight room this summer working on my strength and quickness,” he said.
Stafford used that new-found strength and quickness to his advantage against the Red Devils, continually getting into the lane for close-in shots. However, it was his alley-oop pass to Spalding, the 6-10 U of L recruit, that highlighted the Shamrocks’ 22-0 run that helped them grow their lead from 18-8 to 40-8.
Meanwhile the Red Devils, 12-11 last season, settled for outside shots – and usually only got one of those – in the first half.
Jeff, which returned only one starter (Chad Hudson) from last season, did outscore Trinity 18-16 in the third quarter thanks to five 3-pointers.
“It’s hard to come back against a team like that when they put you down quick and early … but I was really proud of our guys for the way they kept fighting,” second-year Jeff coach Matt Pait said.
Hudson paced the Red Devils with 10 points.
The Shamrocks played without senior guard D’Angelo West, who has signed with Texas State. He sat out with a sprained toe.
“We came out with a lot of intensity,” Szabo said. “All in all I thought it was a good first game and something to build on.”
Jeffersonville (0-1) – Todd 5, Hudson 10, Hunter 5, Sims 6, Kimbrough 6, Minton 6.
Trinity (1-0) – Stafford 20, Spalding 14, Thieneman 5, Ramser 5, Levitch 2, Murphy 2, Schmitt 5, Richardson 9, King 11, Burton 2, Knight 2.
3-point goals – Hudson 3, Richardson 3, Kimbrough 2, Minton 2, Hunter 1, King 1, Ramser 1, Schmitt 1, Stafford 1, Thieneman 1, Todd 1.