Enrollment: 1,189 (boys only)
Mike Szabo is 345-126 since arriving at Trinity in the 2001-2002 season. He’s 467-190 overall including stops at Washington College Academy (Tenn.) and Fort Worth Country Day (Texas).
1 Jacob King 5-9 Jr. 14.2 ppg
10 David Burton 6-2 Jr. 6.4 ppg
13 David Johnson 6-3 Fr. 4.8 ppg
20 Gabe Schmitt 6-1 Sr. 13.5 ppg
23 L.J. Harris 6-2 Jr. 8.0 ppg
How they got here
No team had a more nail-biting road to Rupp than did the Shamrocks, who needed overtime in the semifinals and finals of the 7th Region Tournament. After Trinity missed a free throw to ice the game with 0.6 seconds left, Ballard’s Jake Ramsey connected on a full-court heave with 0.6 seconds left to force an extra four minutes. The tables turned in the finals as the Shamrocks rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit but defeated St. Xavier in overtime after the Musketeers missed a pair of free throws with 2.9 seconds left. During the regular season, Trinity reached the finals of three of the state’s top tournaments — the King of the Bluegrass, the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic and the Louisville Invitational — but went 0-3 in those games, all close affairs. “These guys have won a lot of big ball games and been in a lot of tough situations in games that go down to the wire,” Szabo said. “ … This team has never been out of reach. They’ve been in every single ball game.”
Trinity lost junior Lukas Burkman to a broken foot about a month ago. At the time of his injury, he was the leading three-point shooter on a Shamrocks squad that shoots 41.3 percent from behind the arc as a team. “He might have been the best,” Szabo said. “ … To lose him was tough. It definitely hurt and still hurts.” David Johnson, a freshman who had been coming off the bench, has transitioned nicely into a starting role. He had nine rebounds and scored 16 second-half points in the Shamrocks’ win over Male in the first round of regional play. “He’s responded well and had some nice games for us,” Szabo said.
Player to watch
Gabe Schmitt played on the Trinity team that reached the state semifinals in 2014 and has been the Shamrocks’ most consistent player all season. He shoots 40.4 percent from three-point range and 88.6 percent from the free-throw line. “He’s just so even-keeled and has a great confidence level,” Szabo said. “He’s just had a wonderful senior season.”
This is Trinity’s fourth appearance in the Sweet Sixteen, all under Szabo. The Shamrocks, who won the state title in 2012, boast a 7-2 record in state-tournament games.
NEWPORT CENTRAL CATHOLIC
Ron Dawn has a career coaching record of 491-203. After four seasons at St. Henry, he became head coach of the boys’ program at NewCath from 1990 until 2001, when he left to follow his son’s college basketball career. He led the girls from 2008-09 to 2012, took another year off, then returned to the boys’ team in the 2013-14 season.
4 Brennan Hall 5-11 So. 11.6 ppg
13 Luke Moeves 6-2 Jr. 11.9 ppg
11 Brian Anderson 6-2 Sr. 5.5 ppg
15 Erik Anderson 6-2 Sr. 6.1 ppg
44 Ben Weyer 6-6 Sr. 21.6 ppg
How they got here
The Thoroughbreds upset then-No. 1 Covington Catholic in the 9th Region finals at NKU behind a near-triple-double from star senior Ben Weyer — 22 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks. That win, Dawn’s 400th in the boys’ game, came about two months after the Thoroughbreds lost to the Colonels by 15 on the same floor. Newport Catholic was within two possessions in the final minutes but Weyer injured his wrist — the staff initially thought he’d broken it — and his shot was ineffective down the stretch. “It kind of snowballed on us at the end,” Dawn said. The Thoroughbreds have made a name for themselves in the All “A” Classic; they’ve won four small-school state titles, including three of the last four.
Dawn played for the all-boys Newport Catholic (which merged with the all-girls Our Lady of Providence in 1983 to form NCC), which reached the Sweet Sixteen in 1973 and 1974. He coached his son, Ronny, in the 2000 state tournament. Why stop the tradition? This time around it’s Dawn’s grandson, Stephen Pangallo, who will suit up on the Sweet Sixteen floor.
Player to watch
The Thoroughbreds’ title fortunes undoubtedly hinge on Weyer, a Bellarmine signee who was among the Mr. Basketball finalists. He averaged 11.4 rebounds and slightly increased his three-point percentage (to 44.1 to 45.6 percent). He’s also the school’s leading shot blocker. “It’s not even close. He’s way ahead of our second guy,” Dawn said with a laugh. “… He’s not the best leaper in the world but he’s got long arms and incredible timing. … He doesn’t get caught up in the air on ball fakes a lot. He just kind of stays down and waits on ’em.”
Newport Central Catholic has played in only one other Sweet Sixteen, but Newport Catholic reached seven state tournaments. NCC’s lone appearance was also against a 7th Region representative: Male defeated the Thoroughbreds in the first round.
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