It’s dangerous to predict postseason success based on summer-league play, but all indications show the Trinity High School basketball program is set to return to statewide prominence during the 2022-23 season.
The Shamrocks, featuring a solid mix of veterans and two talented newcomers, defeated Great Crossing 57-56 in a double overtime Sunday to capture the title in the 64-team bracket at the Titans Rockets Summer Shootout at Collins.
Trinity went 6-0 in the three-day event, beating Calloway County, Lincoln County, Bowling Green and Westminster Academy (Fla.) to reach Sunday’s final four. The Shamrocks knocked off defending state champion George Rogers Clark 60-46 in the semifinals before dispatching a young and talented Great Crossing squad in the final.
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“Honestly, we have about 5-10% of our playbook in right now,” Shamrocks coach Mike Szabo said. “But it’s not about that. It’s learning to sacrifice for one another. We have a talented team, and we’ve been talking about sacrificing all summer and not caring about our own individual things. It’s more about winning the game, whatever that takes.”
Trinity won its second state championship in 2019 but hasn’t reached the Seventh Region final the past three seasons, going a combined 53-37 over that stretch.
Last season’s team — without a senior on the roster — went 17-16 and lost to Ballard in the first round of the regional.
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’ve been coaching our tails off, and I felt our teams have kind of overachieved the last few years,” Szabo said. “We were building for this.”
With everyone back, Trinity already figured to be a strong Seventh Region contender next season, but the additions of 6-foot junior Drae Vasser and 6-foot-4 freshman 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 Seventh Region champion Male.
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“Toughness, competitiveness, everything you want in players, they have it,” McClain said of the newcomers. “Great people, great players.”
His team down 31-21 at halftime of the final, McClain hit a trio of 3-pointers to get Trinity going in the second half.
The Shamrocks held for the final shot at the end of regulation, but Vasser committed a turnover. After a one-minute first overtime didn’t produce a point, Great Crossing got first shot in the 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 victory.
Vasser led Trinity with 17 points, and McClain added 16.
McClain said his first three seasons at Trinity have “been very tough” but is excited about what the Shamrocks can accomplish next season.
“I know the expectations are to bring a banner to Trinity,” he said. “This is a step forward for where we want to get to. … We’ll just build up from this. Last year, we struggled finishing late during games. Today, we showed we really want this and played tough.”
Great Crossing, which opened in Georgetown in 2019, showed it should be a contender in the 11th Region next season. The Warhawks — featuring 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, leads 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 semifinals.
“I think we showed Great Crossing has the potential to be a force for the next couple of years in the state,” coach Steve Page said. “I haven’t seen everybody in the state, but I doubt there’s somebody much better than what Trinity has. We’ve had a great summer.”
* In other games Sunday, Indianapolis Cathedral beat Frederick Douglass 75-71 to win the 32-team bracket. Evangel Christian defeated Male 50-48 to win the consolation final in the 64-team bracket.
GREAT 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @kyhighs.