It may be early in the Kentucky high school basketball season, but it’s never too early to pull out a big win. That’s exactly what Trinity did Saturday night, rallying to beat Fern Creek 72-64 in a matchup of two of the top teams in the state.
After trailing by as many as 13 in the first half, the host Shamrocks (5-0) put the clamps on the Tigers in the second. After allowing Fern Creek to make 15 of 28 shots (53.6 percent) in the first, they allowed just a 27.3 percent shooting (6-of-22) clip in the final 16 minutes.
Jacob King was a big reason for Trinity’s surge. He scored all of his team-high 16 points after intermission. Twelve of those points came in the third quarter, as did four of his five steals. His fast break layup, after one of his steals, gave Trinity – the No. 10 team in The Courier-Journal’s preseason coaches’ poll – its first lead of the game, 44-42, with 3:40 left in the third period.
Fern Creek (5-1), the No. 16 team in the poll, would score the next five points, but Trinity’s junior point guard scored the next five. King capped that mini-run with another fast-break layup off a steal to give Trinity a 49-47 lead with 2:06 to go in the third.
The Rocks never looked back.
“For us to come back in the second half like that, (I’m) really proud of my team, because that’s a tremendous effort,” coach Mike Szabo said.
But Szabo questioned that effort early, burning two time outs in the first six minutes as Fern Creek raced out to a 20-7 lead. The Tigers started by being able to drive to the basket, as their first five buckets came off runners, layups and putbacks.
“We came out a little hesitant to their press,” said King, who also added six assists. “In the second half, they (coaches) just told us to attack it.”
Trinity also did a better job on the boards in the second half, outrebounding the Tigers by 11 in that timeframe. That was evident in the final minutes as the Rocks, leading 62-59, got three offensive rebounds during one possession. That led to two free throws by L.J. Harris, and while he missed both, the Rocks maintained possession when the loose ball rebound went out of bounds off the Tigers.
On the next play, King was fouled as he converted a layup with 1:47 left. After making the free throw to convert the three-point play, Trinity led by six and Fern Creek, who were led by Tony Washington’s 18 points, never got closer.
“I felt like (King) just turned into another gear,” Fern Creek coach James Schooler said. “And quite frankly, in the second half, they wanted it more than us.”