Nearly four weeks since returning from a broken finger that forced him to miss the first month of the season, Jacob King is hitting his stride as the Trinity High School basketball team eyes another deep postseason run.
The senior point guard scored a season-high 22 points and added nine steals Tuesday night to lead the Shamrocks to a 75-59 victory at Waggener.
“Jacob has really been playing well the last three or four games,” Trinity coach Mike Szabo said. “He’s being a great distributor. Last year he looked to score a lot, and we needed him to. This year he’s smart enough to know that we have other guys who can fill it up. He’s doing a super job of moving the ball and running the team.
“You get nine steals, you’re playing hard.”
Stan Turnier scored 16 points and Lukas Burkman added 14 as the Shamrocks – No. 4 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings – improved to 22-3 and ran their winning streak to four after back-to-back losses to Fern Creek and Oldham County.
Szabo said he was pleased with his team’s performance in stretches Tuesday, but wants to see a more consistent effort.
“It was a lack of focus at times,” Szabo said. “We have to do a better job. We have to stay focused. That’s just maturing as a team. We have to get better at that.”
Senior guard De’Von Cooper scored 24 of his game-high 31 points in the second half to lead Waggener (14-9). It was the fifth game this season for Cooper, who received a restraining order from a Jefferson County circuit court judge on Jan. 20 that allowed him to play. Cooper had been ruled ineligible by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association after transferring back to Waggener last summer from Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev.
Waggener assistant coach Clay Ryan said Cooper is still working his way back into the team’s system. Ryan filled in Tuesday for head coach Bryan O’Neill, who was serving the second game of a three-game suspension after being ejected from a 90-59 loss to Fern Creek last Friday.
“It’s getting more reps in practice, running our motion offense and knowing those angles, when to screen and when to cut,” Ryan said. “Sometimes he’s a little stagnant because he’s rusty and those are bad habits you pick up playing pickup ball instead of being with your team.”
Waggener’s offense was stagnant during two critical runs Tuesday that allowed Trinity to take control.
The Shamrocks put together an 18-2 run late in the first quarter and early in the second quarter, taking a 25-10 lead on Burkman’s 3-pointer at the 5:19 mark of the second.
Cooper brought the Wildcats back, scoring 14 points in the third quarter, the last two coming at the 1:26 mark to make it 47-41.
But a 12-0 run put the game away for Trinity. David Johnson and King hit 3-pointers and Burkman completed a 4-point play that gave the Shamrocks a 61-43 advantage with 6:20 remaining.
Trinity finished 12 of 26 from 3-point range, and King led the defensive effort with his nine steals.
“Mainly it was just taking what the offense was giving us,” King said. “My teammates were running around crazy trapping the ball, so I was just trying to make the next play and anticipate. I got lucky enough that some of them fell in my hands.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and email@example.com.
TRINITY 75, WAGGENER 59
Trinity (22-3) – Jay Scrubb 5p; David Burton 2p; Jacob King 22p, 9s; David Johnson 9p; L.J. Harris 7p; Stan Turnier 16p; Lukas Burkman 14p.
Waggener (14-9) – Ethan Taylor 3p; De’Von Cooper 31p; Keontrey Chappell 3p; Jaago Kalakon 8p; JacQuess Hobbs 2p; Ben Simic 12p.