Spalding scores 18 as Trinity edges Central

Spalding scores 18 as Trinity edges Central

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Spalding scores 18 as Trinity edges Central

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Thanks to the big play of Raymond Spalding, and some big shots by Jax Levitch, top-ranked Trinity avenged last week’s loss to Central on Thursday night.

Spalding tallied a team-high 18 points while Levitch scored nine points in the final nine minutes to help the Shamrocks erase a 9-point deficit and defeat the host Yellowjackets 60-58.

“I’m really proud to see these guys not get down, keep battling and get a big win on the road,” said Trinity coach Mike Szabo, whose team is No. 1 in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings. “It says a lot about them.”

Szabo, who gave the Shamrocks the weekend off after their 69-56 loss to Central last Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Louisville Invitational Tournament, said he’s been pleased with the way his team has responded this week as it “got back to basics.”

Meanwhile, Thursday night marked Yellowjackets coach Doug Bibby’s first game back on the sideline since last week’s upset of Trinity. He was suspended from coaching his team against Ballard in the LIT semifinals last Saturday after an incident with police at Valley High School that morning.

The No. 18 Yellowjackets (10-6) hadn’t played since their 77-61 loss to the Bruins and Bibby said his team “didn’t have a good week of practice this week because of the whole situation.”

It didn’t show against Trinity. Central shot 51.2 percent (21 for 41) from the field and was a blistering 11 of 16 (68.8 percent) from 3-point range.

The Yellowjackets jumped out to a 4-0 lead before the Shamrocks responded with eight straight points. Sophomore guard Lucas Burkman, who started in place of Levitch after an 18-point effort against Atherton on Tuesday, began Trinity’s surge with a 3-pointer before a Spalding dunk and a three-point play by D’Angelo West.

The Shamrocks led 20-14 after the first quarter and 30-25 at halftime before Central surged ahead early in the third quarter. The Yellowjackets hit a trio of 3-pointers (two by Marshall Firman and one by Daivon Thompson, who knocked down four in the first half) and Brandon Johnson scored on a reverse layup in an 11-0 run that gave them a 41-34 lead midway through the period.

Central’s lead grew as large as nine (45-36) before the Shamrocks rallied. Trinity outscored the Yellowjackets 9-1 over the final 2:01 of the third, led by Levitch, who hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the last 20 seconds.

“Those were big shots for us, we needed that,” Szabo said.

So too did Levitch. The 6-foot-6 senior went scoreless earlier in the week against Atherton and missed his first five shots against Central.

“I just wanted to get going,” he said. “I was getting down on myself a little, which I can’t do, but I knew my coaches and teammates had faith in me.”

Michael Stafford, who added 10 points and seven assists, hit two free throws early in the fourth quarter to give Trinity a 47-46 lead before Thompson drilled his sixth 3-pointer. The Yellowjackets’ lead was short-lived, however.

Daniel Ramser hit a 3, then the 6-10 Spalding dunked home a feed from Levitch to put the Shamrocks on top for good. Spalding, who was 4 for 8 from the field and 5 of 19 from the free throw line in last week’s loss to Central, was 9 for 13 from the field and didn’t attempt a free throw Thursday night. He also finished with six rebounds and three blocked shots.

“He played like a big-time player, and he is a big-time player,” Bibby said. “Rick Pitino has a great player.”

Brandon Wells’ layup with 1.2 seconds left pulled the Yellowjackets within two, but Central couldn’t foul Stafford before time expired.

The Shamrocks (14-4) played without senior wing Christian Thieneman, their second-leading scorer (10 ppg), due to a wrist injury.

Thompson finished with a game-high 22 points while Firman finished with 12, all on 3-pointers, for the Yellowjackets, who lost back-to-back games for the first time all season.

“I’m going to get us focused and get us ready for these next 30 days,” Bibby said.

Trinity 20 10 15 15 60
Central 14 11 21 12 58

Trinity (14-4) – Stafford 10, Spalding 18, Ramser 6, West 6, Burkman 3, Levitch 9, Murphy 2, King 3, Richardson 3.

Central (10-6) – Wells 6, M. Firman 12, Johnson 10, Thompson 22, Brown 4, D. Firman 4.

3-point goals – Johnson 6, M. Firman 4, Levitch 2, Burkman 1, D. Firman 1, King 1, Ramser 1, West 1.

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