July 8th, 2014

Year in Review: Boys' Basketball

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Paul Najjar

Senior Writer


Year in Review: Boys' Basketball
Raymond Spalding sprinting down the floor / photo by Scott Scinta

The Louisville Catholic Sports Network chronicles the 2013-14 sports year in review. We will bring you every sport, every season, every team’s season ending results in a capsule until we're finished.

Trinity may have stolen the headlines for the 2013-2014 basketball season with its strong showing in the state tournament, but DeSales, Holy Cross and St. Xavier turned in top level performances as well and highlighted an outstanding year for the local LCSN teams.

The quartet of schools combined to win 73.8% of their games (93-33) with three of the four making their respective regional tournaments. The Shamrocks defeated season-long No. 1-ranked Ballard in a scintillating 7th Region final and advanced all the way to the state semifinals, while DeSales made its first regional tournament since 2006 and Holy Cross won its All-A region. St. X had another 20 win season with point guard Robert Shaw leading the team.

DESALES: 20-10 – 6th Region quarterfinals

Coach John Mingus and the DeSales Colts built on the excitement of the football team’s state championship and used it to propel the basketball team to new heights. The veteran club made it to the 20-win plateau in addition to earning a spot in the Sixth Region tournament; feats that were last achieved in 2006.

With seven seniors and seven juniors on his sideline including seniors Nick Phillips, Nathan Roush, and junior Chase Shellman, Mingus helped guide the Colts through a tough schedule that included near-miss losses to St. Xavier, Doss, Fairdale and Daviess County. But the wins added up to a trip to the district championship game that qualified DeSales for regional play. For his effort, Mingus was selected as the Sixth Region Coach of the Year.

“It’s an honor to be voted that by the other coaches in your own region,” Mingus said following his selection. “It goes to show how great of a senior class this really was. A coach is only as good as his players. I don’t think there’s ever a coach who wins that doesn’t have good players.”

HOLY CROSS: 21-8 – All-A quarterfinals

The Cougars’ season was highlighted by an impressive 54-50 win over perennial 6th Region power Pleasure Ridge Park as well as a trip to the All-A quarterfinals where they lost a heartbreaker to Lexington Christian 59-58. Coach Mike Durham’s squad included seven seniors and two of the top six all-time leading scorers in Holy Cross basketball history.

Senior Dominique Mack ended his career as the Cougars top scorer in program history. The four year starter was the centerpiece of the team. He was supported by fellow senior Jack Schmitt, who ended his career as the program’s sixth all-time leading scorer.

“We went 9-21 last year and we finish 21-8 this year — it was a total reversal,” Durham said following the Cougars loss to Fairdale in the 21st District semifinals. “That’s a swing of 20-25 games, and that’s the biggest thing we’re proud of. They played hard every game this year.”

While Mack was a major part of the offense, he and his senior mates blazed a leadership trail for the team that put Holy Cross basketball in the thick of contention in the Sixth Region.

“This season is still memorable,” Mack said after the loss to Fairdale. “We had 21 wins, we were the first team to win at state (the All ‘A’ Classic state tournament), we beat PRP — that was awesome. Now I want my underclassmen to not take anything for granted. They need to give it all next year and continue this.”

ST. XAIVER: 21-9, lost in Seventh Region quarterfinals

Led by senior Robert Shaw’s deft touch and quick moves to the hoop, the St. Xavier Tigers basketball team made its third consecutive appearance in the Seventh Region tournament. In Shaw’s four seasons as point guard, the Tigers won 79 games.

But it was a season of close calls, improbable finishes and exciting play from beginning to end for this Tigers team. Seven of their 30 games ended in overtime sessions with the poised Tigers going 5-2 in those games.

Even though Shaw was the clear-cut catalyst and top offensive threat, coach Kevin Klein’s group personified team play. That team earned coach Klein his 100th career win as St. X’s head coach with a 54-52 victory over Fairdale.

St. X’s season ended with a 51-40 defeat to eventual 7th Region champion Trinity in the quarterfinals of the regional tournament. The Tigers trailed 44-27 late in the third quarter and made a valiant run that had the Rocks scrambling late in the game, but the effort came up short in the end.

“Our guys have so much fight and they’ve been so resilient all season long, so I knew we had one more punch to throw before the buzzer sounded,” Klein said following the loss. “The last few minutes of the game kind of exemplified what these guys are all about. I’m so proud to be their coach even though we came up short. We had some great moments this year and they were a great group to coach.”

TRINITY: 31-6 – State Semifinals

The Shamrocks were a top-5 ranked team all season, but the road to Lexington went through Ballard and though the Rocks lost twice to the Bruins—in the championship games of the King of the Bluegrass and L.I.T. tournaments—Trinity won when it counted the most and that was with a thrilling, late fourth quarter comeback in the Seventh Region title game.

It was Trinity’s second regional championship in three years.

“That was a gut check tonight,” Trinity head coach Mike Szabo said after the win over Ballard. “I kept preaching to them, ‘Leave nothing in the tank. We are not getting tired.’ We didn’t play a lot of guys tonight, didn’t sub a whole lot and I said, ‘You’re going to have to do it. You’re just going to have to dig down deeper than you ever have and find what it takes to constantly compete on both ends of the floor and squib back on defense and not give them anything easy.’”

The Rocks were led by senior stalwarts point guard Tre Ivory and forward Craig Owens. Those two were sophomores and contributors to the 2012 state title team and helped propel the young, but talented Trinity team to a couple baskets away from another state final game.

With 6-foot-9 junior center Raymond Spalding manning the middle and six other juniors contributing scoring, defense, rebounding and grit, the Rocks will be the favorites for next year’s state title. They defeated a tough Owensboro team in the first round of the Sweet 16 and sailed past the high-scoring Hopkinsville team in the quarterfinals with the vaunted Trinity defense limiting Hoptown to just 56 points, 28 less than their season average of 84 points/game.

The Rocks’ run ended with a semifinal loss to Scott County and their sharpshooting guard Trent Gilbert. Though pressuring Gilbert all over the court, he seemingly could not miss. He dropped 36 points on the Rocks on 10-for-19 shooting including 6-for-9 from three point range.

“Gilbert was great. He was phenomenal tonight,” Szabo said after the semifinal defeat. “He had a super game. He’s a heck of a player and had a great night. But I’m so proud of these young men and our team. The way that we finished our season, we had a great year and a lot of success. Winning the Seventh Region is always incredibly tough, and it was only the third time in Trinity history that we’ve done that.”

 

 

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