By Les Dixon, Staff Writer
LEXINGTON — Seventh Region champion Trinity put on a dominating display during quarterfinal action of the 97th Annual Whitaker Bank/KHSAA boys’ Sweet Sixteen.
The Shamrocks dominated Hopkinsville on the boards and on the floor, advancing to their second Final Four appearance in three years by defeating the Tigers, 74-56.
Trinity outrebounded the Tigers, 38-23, and connected on 25-of-43 shot attempts, including a six-of-12 effort from three-point range. The Shamrocks were also 18-of-23 from the free-throw line while the Tigers struggled from the floor, hitting on only 17-of-55 shot attempts, and four-of-16 from beyond the arc.
Jax Levitch and Ray Spaulding led Trinity with 14 points apiece while Spaulding also had seven rebounds.
“Just a tremendous team effort,” Trinity coach Mike Szabo said. “(We had) balanced scoring, great defense and did a super job rebounding the ball. I’m very, very happy. I’m very proud of these young men.
“I thought we were very strong with the ball,” he added. “We wanted to attack their press to score.”
Trinity jumped out to a 9-2 lead after a three-pointer by Daniel Ramser at the 6:11 mark, but two three-pointers by Henry and two free throws by Tra Edwards cut Hopkinsville’s deficit to one point (11-10) at the 3:36 mark.
After seeing the Shamrocks’ Spalding score four straight points, the Tigers’ Cager hit a basket tying the game at 15 apiece heading into the second quarter.
It took Hopkinsville four and a half minutes to score a basket in the second quarter, and Trinity took advantage of the situation.
Consecutive three-pointers by Levitch combined with four made free throws gave the Shamrocks a 27-17 edge with 4:04 remaining in the first half.
The Tigers cut Trinity’s lead to six points (33-27), but the Shamrocks’ Gabe Schmitt hit a three-pointer at the end of the half, giving his team a comfortable 36-27 lead at halftime.
Trinity hit 13-of-26 shot attempts in the first half, including a four-of-seven effort from three-point range while Hopkinsville struggled from the floor (seven-of-24 and nine-of-14 from the free-throw line).
The Shamrocks’ depth played a big factor during the first 16 minutes as nine different players scored in the first two quarters.
Trinity extended its lead to 14 points (47-33) at the 3:13 mark, as Christian Theneman scored on a layup while Levitch hit his third three-pointer of the game to continue his teams’ dominance over Hopkinsville.
The Tigers managed to cut their deficit to 10 points on two separate occasions during the final three minutes of the period, but the Shamrocks reeled off four consecutive points to take a commanding 53-39 lead into the final quarter of play.
Trinity put the game away by opening the fourth quarter with six straight points with Levitch hitting another three-pointer and Trey Ivory converting an old-fashioned three-point play.
Spalding put an exclamation on the win by slamming home a dunk with less than five minutes remaining, giving his team a commanding 61-39 lead, as the Shamrocks never looked back.
97th Annual Whitaker Bank/KHSAA
Boys’ Sweet Sixteen
Quarterfinals at Rupp Arena
Trinity 74, Hopkinsville 56
Trinity 15 21 17 21—74
Hopkinsville 15 12 12 17—56
Trinity (74) — Owens 4, Spalding 14, Ivory 9, Ramser 9, Stafford 9, Levitch 14, Knight-goff 2, Scmitt 4, Thieneman 9.
Hopkinsville (56) — Poindexter 19, Matlock 8, Edwards 12, Henry 9, Henan gan 2, Wade 1, Cager 5.