March 13th, 2018

Rocks hope great chemistry leads to long state tourney run

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Conor Revell

Managing Editor

Rocks hope great chemistry leads to long state tourney run
file photo by Conor Revell

Great chemistry can lead your team to the land of glory and Trinity’s basketball squad is finding that out the fun way.

“They’re fun, they have great personalities,” head coach Mike Szabo said. “They’re easy to coach and they’re very open to coaching. They treat their teammates really, really well, and with great respect. They care for one another and it shows everywhere we go. I think every coach would love to have a team like that every year. We have that right now.”

The Shamrocks (30-3) won the Seventh Region championship eight days ago and will play in this week’s Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys Sweet Sixteen® Basketball Tournament at Lexington’s Rupp Arena.

“In the locker room there are a bunch of different personalities,” Trinity sophomore guard Justin Powell said. “That makes everything very special. There are a lot of guys back there just having a ball and that translates onto the court.”

With D-I prospects David Johnson (13.9 points, 5.7 rebounds), Jay Scrubb (17.9 points, 7.1 rebounds), and Powell (11.3 points, 4.2 rebounds) running the show, Trinity is capable of bring its home its second ever state basketball title.

“Oh man, it’s extremely important to have chemistry on the court,” Szabo said. “When you don’t have it, you know it, and it really stands out. When you do have chemistry, it’s more fun for me to come here every day. You spend so much time with these guys and for them to be so respectful, it’s amazing.

“The other thing is they work hard and they play hard. They’re mature about their approach every day and the way they show up with the right attitude. I couldn’t be more proud of this team. Win or lose, obviously we plan on doing well, I’m going to be proud of this group.”

Jamil Hardaway (6.2 points, 5.1 rebounds) will be a force in the post and Stan Turnier (7.8 points, 3.6 rebounds) is a deadly three-point shooter to fill out the other two starting spots.

“It means everything to have that chemistry on the court,” Powell said. “If you’re clicking, then you make that one more (pass) and everything is going to be better. If you don’t have that chemistry then you aren’t going to make that one more and it’s not going to be as great.”

It’s the Rocks first state tournament appearance since 2016, that was an experience Szabo will not forget, and for all the wrong reasons.

“David (Johnson) was really sick, he didn’t do much the day or two before the game,” Szabo said. “That was a rough year. We were absolutely limping into it. We were looking for more rest and medication rather than preparing. We didn’t have the mindset you would want going into that. But, this year, things are good, knock on wood.”

Newport Central Catholic didn’t allow the Rocks to score a point in the second-quarter and cruised to a 48-33 victory in the opening round.

“They have been talking about that a lot,” Powell said. “I was talking to David the other day and they were all sick. He was having to go over stuff with Coach (James) Torah so he could get some medicine. Everybody wants another go-at-it and hopefully it’s a better outcome.”

Trinity is healthy, but their opponent is Scott County (34-1), perhaps the only team in the state that is worthy of being ranked ahead.

“You got to play well in many different areas,” Szabo said. “They’re so talented and very good. They rebound it well, they shoot it well, and they’re deep. It’s a very good basketball team on both ends of the floor. Defensively they’re excellent, they trap, and they put a lot of pressure on you. They take you out of stuff. It’s definitely going to be a great challenge for us.”

Many are saying the winner will advance to the state title game and could be the ones cutting down the nets Sunday afternoon.

Michael Moreno (20.5 points, 11.0 rebounds) is the Cardinals top player and is being recruited by a number of D-I schools.

Cooper Robb (13.9 points, 4.9 rebounds) and Diablo Stewart (12.1 points, 2.1 rebounds) will play a key roles.

“They’re a very good team,” Powell said. “They’re going to go out there and work hard and give you all that you can handle. We just have to be prepared.”

Bryce Long (9.4 points and 3.0 rebounds) and Glenn Covington (6.0 point and 3.7 rebounds) are the two other Scott County starters.

Lorenzo Williams (7.1 points and 3.2 rebounds), Cam Fluker (4.9 points and 2.1 rebounds), and Kobi Harris (1.7 points and 1.3 rebounds) will come off the bench.

It could come down to the guards and who is hitting more three pointers. Trinity has made 283 of 685 (41.3 percent) from three-point land while the Cardinals have hit 283 of 768 (36.8 percent) three pointers.

“The good thing about our teams is that every year we play in national tournaments,” Szabo said. “We play in big venues, big crowds. These guys are very used to that. Honestly, we don’t even address that we’re playing in the spotlight. It’s just another game, our guys, obviously playing in Rupp Arena is a big deal, but we’ll be focused and ready.”

The two heavyweights haven’t met since the 2014 Sweet 16 semifinals. Scott County won that game 62-56 and also beat the Rocks 70-65 during the regular season.

Trinity’s last win over Scott County was a 71-53 victory in the 2012 Sweet 16 championship game, the only time the school has ever won a basketball state title.

“We just have to be focused,” Powell said. “We know what our goal is and our goal is to hopefully win it and get a state championship. We just need to stay calm and know what we’re going up against.”

Tipoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Louisville Catholic Sports Network will broadcast all the Rocks state tournament games on 970AM – WGTK.


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