March 14th, 2016

Trinity basketball a new powerhouse

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Conor Revell

Managing Editor


Trinity basketball a new powerhouse
photo by Conor Revell

For years Trinity was known as a football school, the basketball program just existed, and didn’t experience much success.

But when head coach Mike Szabo arrived in 2001, things began to change, and Trinity started making noise on the hardwood.

In the 46 seasons before Szabo arrived, the school on Shelbyville Road had only won 20 or more games in a season six times.

Szabo has now been with the Shamrocks for 15 seasons compiling a 345-126 record and has won at least 20 games nine times. The last time Trinity didn’t win 20 games was the 2007-08 season.

It didn’t take long for Szabo to make his mark. In just his third season (2003-04), Szabo and his Rocks embarked on a Cinderella run and won their first Seventh Region championship in school history.

Along with a slowdown offense, the Rocks used their trademark defense to beat Manual in the first round of the Seventh Region Tournament, Fern Creek in the semifinals, and then stunned Male 66-56 in the finals.

At Rupp, Szabo and his team let the state know who they were indeed a force by blowing out University Heights by 18 in the first round.

In the state quarterfinals, Trinity had eventual state champion Mason County and future Tennessee superstar Chris Lofton on the brink of defeat.

The Royals were down by six with under a minute to play in regulation but Lofton and Casey Pfeffer hit 3-pointers at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime.

Mason County ended the Rocks run with a thrilling 66-59 triple overtime victory.

With the Saxton twins and Zach Berry back, it was just the beginning for Szabo as he guided the Rocks to a then school record 29 wins during the 2004-05 season and won the Louisville Invitational Tournament for the first time in school history.

Trinity went onto win the 26th District championship and beat Male in the first round of the Seventh Region Tournament, but saw its dream season come to a close with a heartbreaking 55-54 loss to Ballard in the semifinals.

The Rocks went 16-15 in 2006 and 21-11 in 2007 but lost in the first round of the Seventh Region Tournament both years.

It got worse in 2008 when the Rocks went 11-14 and didn’t even make it to the regional tournament.

But that would be the last time Trinity basketball finished with a losing record. The Rocks went 22-11 in 2009 and 26-4 in 2010 winning the King of the Bluegrass and the Louisville Invitational Tournaments.

Yet, Trinity lost in the first round of the Seventh Region Tournament in 2009 and in the semifinals in 2010.

The Rocks went 21-8 in 2011 but failed to make it out of the district tournament.

Szabo glory year came in 2012 when the Rocks went 35-3 winning the Louisville Invitational Tournament and finally got back to the state tournament as he won the Seventh Region title.

Trinity put on a dominating show at Rupp beating Bullitt East by 20 in the opening round, George Rogers Clark by 23 in the quarterfinals, Scott County by 18 in the semifinals, and Southwestern by nine to bring home the school first state title.

After the season, Nathan Dieudonne was named Mr. Basketball for his efforts. He is now a senior at Boston University. Other players that went on to play college basketball include Troy Saxton (University of Alabama-Huntsville), Charles Foster (East Carolina) and Darryl Hicks (Boston College).

Trinity scored a big upset in 2014 when they beat Ballard in the Seventh Region Tournament and made a run to the state semifinals by beating Owensboro in the first round and Hopkinsville in the quarterfinals.

Eventual state champion Scott County ended the Rocks run in the semifinals.

Despite a disappointing finish in 2015, the Rocks recorded a 24-6 record but lost to Ballard by 14 in the regional semifinals.

That team was supposed to repeat what the 2012 team did as Ray Spalding (University of Louisville), D’Angelo West (Texas State), Jay Murphy (New York University) Chris Thieneman (Marshall), Michael Stafford (Transylvania), and Daniel Ramser (Bellarmine) went on to play at the collegiate level.

Through the years Szabo has churned out 32 players that continued their basketball careers at the collegiate level. That number is only sure to go up.

Now Szabo has the Rocks playing in the Sweet 16 for a third time in five years and with a team many didn’t have high expectations for at the start of the season.

With only two seniors (Gabe Schmitt and Christian Terry), the Rocks are rather inexperienced but have a ton of talent in Jacob King, Lukas Burkman (out with a broken foot), L.J. Harris, David Burton and a superstar in the makings, freshman David Johnson.

With the continued success, Szabo and the Trinity basketball program has rightfully earned its respect. 

 

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