Now in his 18th season, and with one state championship to his credit, Coach Mike Szabo has the Trinity Shamrocks back in the State Tournament for the second year in a row. Last year’s visit ended in the first round when Scott County beat Trinity 54-53. The Rocks hope, and expect, to be around Lexington longer this year.

Trinity was the top-ranked team in the Seventh Region for the entire season and comes into the state tournament as one of the favorites. Led by University of Louisville signee David Johnson, Trinity won its first eight games this season before Johnson got hurt in a King of the Bluegrass game against Collins and fell to the Titans 60-58. Without Johnson, the Rocks dropped four out of their next six games, including a 56-53 loss to Scott County, who was playing without Michael Moreno. After Johnson’s return, Trinity went 16-3 the rest of the way, the three losses being to Henry Clay, Male, and Waggener. Trinity's record currently stands at 26-8.

Trinity has played well in the post-season, avenging those losses to Male and Waggener on their way to once again facing the Ballard Bruins in the Seventh Region championship game. In beating the Bruins 59-37, Trinity showed it is ready for the state tournament.

Those who will be seeing David Johnson in person for the first time are in for a treat. A 6’5” athletic point guard, Johnson led the Rocks in scoring (16.2 ppg), rebounding (7.2 rpg), and assists. A 36.4% 3-point shooter over the course of the season, Johnson can score from all over the floor while also getting everyone else on the team involved. Don’t be surprised to see Johnson lead Trinity deep into the tournament.

But Trinity is far from a one-man team. Stan Turnier is a 6’4” wing player who averaged 11.9 ppg and is Trinity’s best outside shooter. Turnier, who has accepted a preferred walk-on spot with the University of Georgia for next season, is also a solid defender.

Trinity has other players who can step up and have big offensive nights. For example, Kolton Rice is a 5’9” guard who averaged 7.7 ppg. Against Ballard in the Seventh Region championship game, Rice was 9 for 11 from the field, including 3 for 3 on 3-point shooting, and scored a total of 25 points. Jamil Hardaway is a 6’3” senior who averaged 8.9 ppg and 6.1 rpg (second highest on the team). Guard Kamari Kenemore (6’0”) averaged 5.4 ppg but had a season-high 21 points earlier in the season against Fern Creek. Sophomore Ethan Hodge, 6’1”, is usually the first player off the bench and averaged 6.8 ppg but scored 15 points or more 6 times this season.

All that is fine and good, but Trinity does not try to win by simply scoring more points than you. Instead, Trinity tries to keep you from scoring. While averaging 61 ppg on the offensive end, Trinity is limiting the opposition to 46.6 ppg for the season.

So Trinity comes into the state tournament as a well-coached, healthy, experienced team playing well both offensively and defensively, led by perhaps the best player in the state. I like their chances.