Shamrocks to face Paul Dunbar in tournament final
The Trinity High School basketball team got its usual blend of strong 3-point shooting and stingy defense Tuesday night, but the Shamrocks showed signs of developing another dimension that could make them even stronger down the road.
Reserves Christian Terry, Brendan King and Damon McClain combined for 18 points as Trinity’s bench provided a needed boost in a 59-51 victory over host Lexington Catholic in the semifinals of the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic.
Trinity coach Mike Szabo said developing depth was a point of emphasis after a 71-64 loss to Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy last week in the final of the King of the Bluegrass Holiday Classic.
“We needed that tonight,” Szabo said. “I’m really, really happy with our guys coming off the bench. We had a couple of guys who normally play really well kind of struggle tonight.”
Jacob King and Gabe Schmitt both scored 13 points to lead the Shamrocks (12-1), No. 10 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s preseason poll of coaches. Trinity shot 53.8 percent (11 of 20) from 3-point range and advanced to face Paul Dunbar in Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. championship game.
David Burton added nine points and eight rebounds, but the play of Terry (seven points), Brendan King (six points) and McClain (five points) off the bench had Szabo smiling after the contest.
McClain’s play at point guard was especially significant as starter Jacob King was hampered by foul trouble and played just 15 minutes. McClain finished with three assists.
“Yeah, you get frustrated because you want to be out on the court, but props to Damon,” Jacob King said. “He came in and played his butt off, which is what you want. That’s why you have teammates who come in and you believe in them.”
Luke Johnson (18 points) and Donovan Morris (17 points) led No. 17 Lexington Catholic (5-6), which failed to reach the final of its own tournament for the first time since 2005.
Still, coach Brandon Salsman was pleased with his team’s effort against a Trinity team he considers the state’s best.
“I thought our defense in the second half was spectacular,” Salsman said. “That’s one of the hardest teams in the state to guard because they’re extremely disciplined and they pass the ball extremely well.”
Morris scored the first 17 points of the game for the Knights, capping the run with a 3-pointer that pulled LexCath within 18-17 at the 5:28 mark of the second quarter.
But Morris went out with his third foul at the 4:44 mark, and Trinity took advantage with a 12-4 run for a 30-21 halftime lead.
Burton had back-to-back baskets to give Trinity a 39-27 edge midway through the third, but the Knights responded with a bevy of easy points in transition to claw back. All-State wide receiver J.J. Ogbogu had two straight baskets to give LexCath a 42-41 lead and Javen Hardin’s two free throws made it 44-41.
“When we get out and run we’re really good,” Salsman said.
Jacob King’s 3-pointer before the buzzer tied the score at 44, and McClain’s 3-pointer gave Trinity a 47-44 edge at the 6:34 mark of the fourth.
LexCath pulled within one point on three occasions, the last coming on Peter Whitman’s basket that made it 52-51 with 2:50 left.
But Jacob King scored the final seven points of the game, including a short jumper that made it 54-51 at the 2:16 mark. In the final minute he hit 3 of 4 free throws and sealed it with a steal and layup.
* Paul Dunbar 75, Bryan Station 40: Taveion Hollingsworth scored 22 points and Jordan Lewis added 20 as the No. 3 Bulldogs (12-2) rolled past the Defenders (7-4).
In Wednesday’s final, Paul Dunbar will try to avenge an 81-70 loss to Trinity last week in the quarterfinals of the King of the Bluegrass.
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trinity (12-1) – J. King 13, McClain 5, Burton 9, Schmitt 13, Harris 2, B. King 6, Terry 7, Burkman 4.
Lexington Catholic (5-6) – Hardin 3, Morris 17, Ogbogu 9, Johnson 18, Payne 2, Whitman 2.
3-point goals – J. King 2, McClain, Burton, Schmitt 3, B. King 2, Terry; Morris 4, Johnson 2.
Paul Dunbar (12-2) – Lewis 20, D. Brown 5, Hollingsworth 22, Keplinger 3, Kelley 4, J. Brown 2, Gadd 4, Homer 2, Williams 13.
Bryan Station (7-4) – Davis 13, Few 3, Guy 2, Dunn 8, Murphy 4, Gravely 2, Demarcus 8.
3-point goals – Lewis, Hollingsworth 2, Keplinger, Williams; Davis 3, Demarcus 2.