It’s dangerous to predict playoff success based on summer league play, but all indications point to Trinity High School’s basketball program set to return to center stage in statewide in the 2022-23 season.
The Shamrocks, with a strong mix of veterans and two talented newcomers, beat Great Crossing 57-56 in double overtime on Sunday to claim the title in the 64-team bracket at the Titans Rockets Summer Shootout in Collins.
Trinity went 6-0 in the three-day event, beating Calloway County, Lincoln County, Bowling Green and Westminster Academy (Florida) to reach Sunday’s last four. The Shamrocks knocked out defending state champion George Rogers Clark 60-46 in the semifinals before sending a young and talented team from Great Crossing to the final.
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“Honestly, we have about 5-10 percent of our playbook right now,” Shamrocks coach Mike Szabo said. “But it’s not about that. It’s learning to sacrifice for each other. We have a talented team and we’ve talked about sacrificing all summer and not worrying about our own business. It’s more about winning the game, no matter what.
Trinity won its second state championship in 2019 but hasn’t reached the seventh region final in the last three seasons, going 53-37 combined in that span.
Last season’s team – without a senior on the roster – went 17-16 and lost to Ballard in the first round of regionals.
The Shamrocks returned a pair of solid senior guards in Cam McClain and CJ Walls and 6-foot-8 senior center David Pfeifer, along with juniors Noah Lovan and Alex Johnson.
“We trained our tails, and I felt our teams kind of overshot the last few years,” Szabo said. “We were building for this.”
With everyone back, Trinity already thought they would be a strong No. 7 contender next season, but the additions of 6ft junior Drae Vasser and 6ft 4in rookie Jayden Johnson have the Shamrocks thinking even bigger. .
Vasser averaged 13.6 points and 4.6 points last season for a Jeffersontown team that won the sixth region. Johnson averaged 6.5 points and 3.2 rebounds for the men’s No. 7 champion.
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“Tenacity, competitiveness, whatever you want in players, they’ve got it,” McClain said of the newcomers. “Great people, great players.”
His team was down 31-21 at halftime in the final, McClain hitting a 3-point trio to start Trinity in the second half.
The Shamrocks held for the final blow late in regulation, but Vasser committed a turnover. After a one-minute first overtime failed to produce a run, Great Crossing got the first shot in sudden death second overtime, but missed. Trinity got the rebound and Vasser was fouled going to the basket. He hit his first free throw to give the Shamrocks the win.
Vasser led Trinity with 17 points and McClain added 16.
McClain said his first three seasons at Trinity have “been very difficult,” but he’s excited about what the Shamrocks can accomplish next season.
“I know the expectation is to bring a banner to Trinity,” he said. “It’s a step towards where we want to get. … We’ll just build from that. Last year we struggled to finish late in games. Today we showed that we really wanted it and played hard.
Great Crossing, which opened in Georgetown in 2019, showed it should be a contender in the 11th region next season. The Warhawks – with one junior and four sophomores in their starting lineup – beat South Oldham, Eastern, North Oldham, Warren Central and Woodford County to reach the final.
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Malachi Moreno, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, runs Great Crossing and has scholarship offers from eastern Kentucky and Missouri. The Warhawks went 27-7 last season and lost to Henry Clay in the 11th Region semifinal.
“I think we’ve shown Great Crossing has the potential to be a force for the next two years in the state,” coach Steve Page said. “I haven’t seen everyone in the state, but I doubt there’s anyone much better than what Trinity has. We’ve had a great summer.”
* In other games on Sunday, Indianapolis Cathedral beat Frederick Douglass 75-71 to win the 32-team group. Evangel Christian beat Male 50-48 to win the consolation final in the 64-team bracket.
LARGE CROSSING 31 25 0 – 56
TRINITY 21 35 1 – 57
Great Crossing – Vince Dawson 12, Junius Burrell 8, Jeremiah Godfrey 4, Gage Richardson 8, Malachi Moreno 8, Christian Martin 2, Trey Skaggs 3, DeJohn Blunt 11.
Trinity – Cam McClain 16, CJ Walls 11, Drae Vasser 17, Jayden Johnson 9, David Pfeifer 2, Alex Johnson 2.
Jason Frakes: 502-582-4046; [email protected]; Twitter: @kyhighs.