Bullitt East vs. Trinity
Region: 6th Record: 27-4 Enrollment: 1,224
Troy Barr played for Bullitt East in the mid-1980s and was an assistant for 10 years before taking over the top spot. He's in his 10th year as coach with an overall record of 216-89, including back-to-back region titles.
Player Height Class Points
Trey Rakes 5-10 Jr. 8.6
Derek Willis 6-9 Jr. 18.0
Rusty Troutman 6-5 Jr. 16.9
Kory Caufield 6-2 Sr. 7.9
Chris Embry 6-0 Jr. 3.8
The Chargers have all the pieces of a title contender: a seasoned point guard (Rakes); a talented big man who's a difference-maker on both ends of the floor (Willis); a versatile scorer (Troutman); a good three-point shooter (Caufield), and solid role players in Embry and Luke Francke. Barr said his team is at its best "when we're sharing the basketball, moving it around the perimeter very quickly. We like an up-tempo." Bullitt East lost one of its best players when Elliott Young suffered back problems in December. "We've been through some adversity, but we've bounced back and adjusted," Barr said. "That's part of basketball."
Big Blue connection
Bullitt East will get the support of UK fans in Rupp Arena this week because Willis has committed to the Cats. Willis got his first statewide exposure in last year's Sweet Sixteen and made an impression. He totaled 26 points, 31 rebounds and 17 blocked shots in three games. That helped him earn the rating as the No. 1 player in the state this pre-season. He's lived up to it, averaging 18 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks.
Player to watch
Rakes' 35-foot game-winning three in the region finals made ESPN's Sportscenter. He didn't need that hero shot to win over his coach. He did that as a freshman. "Trey has 79 wins as our starting point guard, which is incredible," Barr said. "He's exceptionally quick, a tremendous ball handler. He's got a huge motor and a big heart." His dad, Junebug Rakes, was a high school star at Boyd County and helped Kentucky Wesleyan to a national title. "His dad schooled him extremely well," Barr said.
This is Bullitt East's third appearance in the state tournament. It reached the semifinals last year before losing to Rowan County.
Region: 7th Record: 31-3 Enrollment: 1,381 (all boys)
Mike Szabo is in his 11th year (230-102) at Trinity. He has also coached in New Hampshire, Tennessee and Texas. His overall record is 341-147 in 18 seasons.
Player Height Class Points
Charles Foster 6-1 Sr. 11.8
Troy Saxton 6-3 Sr. 6.9
Darryl Hicks 6-4 Jr. 12.5
Nathan Dieudonne 6-7 Sr. 13.5
James Quick 6-1 Jr. 8.8
For Trinity, it all starts (and usually ends for opponents) with defense. "We're looking to put great pressure on the ball at all times," Szabo said. The Rocks don't let up in the half-court, doing their best to keep opponents out of the paint and be strong on the boards. They do it with quickness, athleticism and intensity. On offense, Trinity can get points from any number of guys. "We're equal opportunity," Szabo said. Dieudonne and Hicks are versatile scorers. Foster is a good shooter and can create off the dribble. Saxton is heady and steady. The Rocks also boast a deep bench that includes Miles Rice, Demarcus Page and Craig Owens.
Boost from a bump
Trinity has had a fabulous season so far — 31 wins and just three losses. One of those losses sparked the Rocks' run to Rupp. In a pre-Christmas tournament in Florida, Trinity led St. Raymond's (N.Y.) by 21 points in the fourth quarter, but blew the lead and lost 73-70. "A major bump in the road," Szabo said. "What happened there stayed in our heads. We always know we better not let up, we better stay focused and keep playing as hard as we can."
Player to watch
Quick is one of the top football prospects in the nation, a lightning quick wide receiver. Just a junior, he already has offers from several SEC schools, including Alabama, Auburn and UK, as well as Michigan. Szabo said Quick could play big-time college hoops if he wanted. "No question," Szabo said. "He's fast, he's explosive, he's athletic, he's skilled and he's a winner. He competes so hard, and he's committed to his teammates."
Trinity's only other Sweet Sixteen appearance came in 2004, It lost to Mason County in triple overtime in the quarterfinals.