High School Basketball

Late-blooming star, Division I studs lead battle-tested champs out of Louisville

Trinity's David Johnson runs the point against Madison Central at Madison Central gymnasium in Richmond, Ky., Friday, January 26, 2018.
Trinity's David Johnson runs the point against Madison Central at Madison Central gymnasium in Richmond, Ky., Friday, January 26, 2018.

The 101st Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen basketball state tournament tips Wednesday at Rupp Arena in Lexington.

Below is a team profile for the Trinity Shamrocks, who will meet Scott County in the first round at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

TRINITY

Region: 7th

Record: 30-3

Enrollment: 1,205 (all boys)

Coach's résumé

Mike Szabo is 404-134 since arriving at Trinity in the 2001-2002 season. He’s 526-198 overall including stops at Washington College Academy (Tenn.) and Fort Worth Country Day (Texas).

Probable starters

4) Jay Scrubb, 6-3, Sr., 17.9 ppg

13) David Johnson, 6-4, Jr., 14.0 ppg

15) Justin Powell, 6-5, So., 11.3 ppg

23) Jamil Hardaway, 6-4, Jr., 6.1 ppg

32) Stan Turnier, 6-4, Jr., 7.6 ppg

How they got here

Ballard and Trinity split the last six 7th Region titles entering this season, alternating possession of it since 2012. The Shamrocks kept the pattern in tact after handling the Bruins, 68-53, in the region finals. “It’s a rivalry-type game so there’s a lot of emotions that go into it,” Szabo said. “Our guys were incredibly proud of themselves. Everybody in the entire Trinity comunity is really excited about this team.”

Szabo having a blast coaching this group of Shamrocks. Their only losses were to 6th Region champion Fern Creek in the Louisville Invitational Tournament finals, on a jump shot in the final seconds of their regular-season finale against Lexington Christian Academy, and by one at Madison Central after leading the first 30 minutes without Powell, their future Division I point guard.

“I’ve had so much fun this year,” Szabo said. “I’ve have a great time being around these guys. Whether we win or lose, these guys have been a joy to be around. They’ve really tried their best to listen, buy in, focus and give great effort.”

Player to watch

Johnson, who at one time was committed to Louisville, is well-known; he’s in the Team U.S.A. system and is a guy who will contend for Mr. Basketball honors next year. Powell, meanwhile, sports offers from Auburn, Cincinnait, Vanderbilt and Xavier.

Don’t anticipate Szabo putting extra pressure on Johnson, Powell or any other player to put on an outsized performance.

“I’m not expecting anything other than what I’ve already seen from these guys,” Szabo said. “I don’t expect him to be any different. I’m just expecting to see more of the same, to be honest with ya.”

No Scrubb

Scrubb emerged this season as one of the more unlikely Mr. Basketball finalists. He struggled in the classroom and with accountability over his first two years of high school but was finally able to get varsity court time last season. As a senior he’s averaged 17.9 points and 7.1 rebounds, both team highs.

“I’m real proud of him for not giving up and for staying in there and staying tough,” Szabo said. “ ... (He’s) got better as a player, as a student, as a practice player, as a teammate. Just like every other player on our team. We want them to improve in all areas of life so when they graduate from Trinity they’re ready for the next challenge in life.”

Sweet history

This is Trinity’s fifth appearance in the Sweet Sixteen, all under Szabo. The Shamrocks won their only state title in 2012.

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps

Chris Ware | Herald-Leader staff
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