For the second time in four months the Shamrocks are state champions.
Trinity High School brought its exceptional basketball season to a crescendo March 17 at Rupp Arena, overwhelming Scott County 71-53 in the final of the PNC/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen and claiming the programâ€™s first state title.
Trinity, which beat Scott County to win the 6-A football title in December, became the only school in the state to win both crowns in the same school year since the KHSAA began sanctioning football in 1959.
â€œItâ€™s absolutely amazing,â€ said head coach Mike Szabo. â€œIâ€™m so proud of our team and just so happy for them. To watch them celebrate for each other and cut down the nets â€” that is truly special.â€
Using a balanced attack and stifling defense, the Rocks (35-3) subdued the Cardinals in the championship game before 14,064 fans.
Charles Foster led the way with 18 points, Troy Saxton and Darryl Hicks added 13 apiece and James Quick chipped in 10. Tournament MVP Nathan Dieudonne netted 12 points and grabbed 12 boards.
Scott County was led by Tamron Manning, one of five finalists for Mr. Basketball, who scored 10 of the Cardinalsâ€™ 12 first-quarter points and finished with 28.
Manning didnâ€™t get much support, though, and Scott County (34-5) was held to a season-low 53 points.
â€œWe wanted to be very physical, deny and make it difficult for them to run offense,â€ Szabo said of his teamâ€™s defensive strategy in the final.
A deep bench and the outstanding play of Dieudonne keyed wins over Bullitt East, Clark County and Pulaski Southwestern in the tournamentâ€™s first three rounds.
The 6-foot-6 Dieudonne, also a Mr. Basketball finalist, averaged 17.5 points and 8 rebounds in four Sweet Sixteen games.
When starters James Quick and Darryl Hicks were benched against Clark County in the second round for breaking team rules, it was Dieudonne who picked up the slack, registering 25 points and eight rebounds.
â€œI just happened to be the one with the hot hand,â€ said Dieudonne, who has signed with Boston University.
â€œ(Having strong reserves) gives you a lot of confidence,â€ he added. â€œWeâ€™ve got a lot of guys that come off the bench, from Miles (Rice), DeMarcus (Page) and Craig (Owens) down to Damon (Thurman) and Andrew (Perito). Everybody can really play.â€
After cutting down the nets and hoisting the hardware, the end of the season was still bittersweet for Szabo.
â€œWeâ€™ve enjoyed the ride with these guys,â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™re thankful about the way that it did end, but â€¦ when you have a special team like this you donâ€™t want it to end.â€
Joining Dieudonne and Manning as finalists for Mr. Basketball are Mooreâ€™s Mekale McKay, Buckhornâ€™s Matt Day and Rowan Countyâ€™s Adam Wing.
Winners of Mr. and Miss Basketball will be announced on April 28.
Bowling State Championships
The inaugural Ebonite/KHSAA State Bowling Championships will take place March 22-23 at Executive Strike and Spare on Phillips Lane. The boysâ€™ team competition begins Thursday at 7:30 a.m., followed by the girlsâ€™ at 1 p.m.
Fridayâ€™s individual tournament begins at 7:45 a.m.
Regionals were held earlier this month and the top two teams and top four individuals advanced.
Greater Louisville is represented by regions three and four.
Here are the qualifiers:
- Girlsâ€™ Teams â€“ North Bullitt (Region Champ) and PRP.
- Girlsâ€™ Individuals â€“ Mercyâ€™s Shelby Thompson (RC), Bullitt Centralâ€™s Megan Helm, North Bullittâ€™s Kaitlyn Kinnaird, PRPâ€™s Allie Henon.
- Boysâ€™ Teams â€“ PRP (RC) and Fern Creek.
- Boysâ€™ Individuals – Fern Creekâ€™s Jo Jo Miller, PRPâ€™s David Davis (RC), George Eberhardt and Anthony Alvey.
- Girlsâ€™ Teams â€“ Sacred Heart (RC) and Male.
- Girlsâ€™ Individuals â€“ Maleâ€™s Marissa Thomas (RC), Manualâ€™s Raylin Benningfield, Amber Kleitz and Laynie Shulak.
- Boysâ€™ Teams â€“ Trinity (RC) and Manual.
- Boysâ€™ Individuals â€“ Trinityâ€™s Chase Donohue (RC), Maleâ€™s Michael McCubbins, Manualâ€™s Kiefer Hillerich, and Cameron Shulak.
St. Xavier Signees
After capping their prep careers with a state championship in November, four St. X soccer players have signed national letters-of-intent to compete at the next level.
Gabe Stewart (Lipscomb University), Neil Henley (Xavier University), Danny Belza (University of Massachusetts) and Mitchell Metzger (Eckerd College) were key members of the Tigersâ€™ regional title team in 2010 and state champion squad in 2011.
Photos By James Eaton | Contributing Photographer
Contact columnist Chris Cahill at email@example.com