One rival down and another one up for the Trinity High School basketball team.
Jacob King scored 14 points – all in the first half – and sophomore Stan Turnier added 12 points in an increased role off the bench as the host Shamrocks whipped St. Xavier 67-38 on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Seventh Region Tournament.
Trinity (29-3) – No. 3 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings – advanced to face No. 6 Ballard (26-6) in Thursday’s 6 p.m. regional semifinal at Valley.
It will mark the sixth straight year the Shamrocks and Bruins have met in the regional tournament, with the winner taking the regional crown each of the past five.
Trinity and Ballard have not faced each other this season.
“They’re extremely quick, one of the quickest Ballard teams I’ve seen,” Shamrocks coach Mike Szabo said. “Their defensive pressure and their pace are tough. They’re one of the best teams in Kentucky.”
Trinity dominated from the outset Tuesday, jumping to a 23-6 lead on its way to its third victory in as many tries against St. X (19-12) this season.
King scored 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, to help stake the Shamrocks to their early lead.
“It’s a tough challenge because they’re hard to defend because they have so many weapons offensively and they’re hard to score on because they’re athletic and have great length and hold you to one shot,” St. X coach Kevin Klein said. “They came out with a little more intensity and a little more competitive championship spirit than we did, and I think that showed throughout the first half.”
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The Tigers’ lone highlight came early in the second quarter, as they reeled off nine straight points and pulled with 23-15 on Paul Oberst’s basket at the 3:20 mark.
But it was all Trinity from there, as the Shamrocks scored the final 12 points for a 35-15 halftime lead. Turnier scored five points during the run and is seeing increased playing time after senior forward L.J. Harris recently suffered a season-ending foot injury.
“Defense first when I get there and play as hard as I can,” Turnier said. “My role increases with L.J. out, definitely.”
Added Szabo: “The thing I like about Stan is that he’s going to do whatever’s asked of him and he’s going to try to best. He’s a skilled player who can play at both ends of the floor, and I thought he played well tonight.”
Trinity cruised in the second half and shot 51.1 percent (23 of 45) for the game. Szabo was particularly pleased with a defense that forced 14 turnovers and limited St. X to 31.3 percent (15 of 48) shooting. Pierce Kiesler led the Tigers with 15 points.
“We had good on-the ball defense tonight, and our help defense was good,” Szabo said. “Our communication still needs to improve, but we did some good things in that area as well.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
TRINITY 67, ST. XAVIER 38
ST. XAVIER (19-12) – James Taylor 9p; Tyler Barnes 2p, 6r; Paul Oberst 5p, 6r; Pierce Kiesler 15p; Jake Wehder 1p; Matthew Smith 3p; Evan Walker 3p.
TRINITY (29-3) – Jacob King 14p, 3s; Jay Scrubb 6p; David Burton 5p, 3a; David Johnson 8p, 7r; Lukas Burkman 6p; Damon McClain 2p; Jamil Hardaway 4p; Kolton Rice 4p; Walter Johnson 4p; Justin Powell 2p; Stan Turnier 12p.