February 27th, 2020

Trinity Edges Waggener in District Semifinals

Jeff Woods 

Staff Writer 

 Trinity Edges Waggener in District Semifinals
Trinity Edges Waggener in District Semifinals/ photo by Jeff Woods

Two weeks ago, Trinity lost to district rival Waggener by 17. Monday night, the Shamrocks flipped the script and kept their season alive.


Junior Zach Stahlman scored a team-high 16 points to lead the Rocks past Waggener 52-50 in the 27th district semifinals. Trinity (17-14) moves on to face Seneca in the district final on Thursday.


“I thought we played much better defense tonight,” said Trinity head coach Mike Szabo. “We were a lot more locked in on what we were trying to do tonight than we were the last time we played them.”


Senior Andrew Brian saved his best for the fourth quarter, scoring all eight of his points in the final period. His layup with ten seconds to play effectively put the game away.


“I feel like we always had the chance to win this game,” said Brian. “I feel like we are two evenly matched teams. And even losing by a big deficit, like 17, we were up by 12 in the first half. It’s a team we know we can beat.”


Junior Ethan Hodge finished with ten points while Dudley Cox tallied eleven points, including three triples in the first quarter to get the Shamrocks rolling.


“I’m really proud of them tonight for not quitting,” said Szabo. “We had the lead. We surrendered it late. We could’ve folded, and we didn’t. We kept fighting to the end and made winning plays at the end to win the game.”


After trading the lead six times in the second quarter, Trinity managed to take a 27-21 edge into halftime, as the Wildcats went scoreless the final 4:45 of the first half. The Shamrocks pushed the lead to ten at 35-25 before Waggener ended the third quarter on a 12-2 run to draw even with Trinity entering the final period. Wildcats senior Richard White scored eleven of his game-high 21 points in the third quarter.


The lead swapped three more times in the fourth quarter until Stahlman hit a trey with 3:26 to play to put Trinity ahead for good at 44-41. Waggener struggled from the free-throw line down the stretch, hitting just four-of-ten from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.


“Five-for-thirteen. Not going to win many games doing that,” said Waggener head coach Bryan O’Neill. “I said to the underclassmen when coach says come in and get extra shots, this should be a lesson as to why we do that, so you can make free throws when it’s time to make them.”


Trinity hosts Seneca (21-8) for the district title Thursday at 7 p.m. The Shamrocks won the regular-season matchup 55-54 in early December. A win on Thursday would guarantee a home game in next week’s 7th region tournament.


“We want to win on Thursday and try to get that home-court advantage,” said Szabo. “But after tonight’s win, I’m excited we’re going to be playing next week as well.”


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