High School Basketball

Sweet Sixteen: Trinity rolls into semis, despite suspensions

Trinity's Nathan Dieudonne shot over Clark County's Charlie Rogers in the first half. Dieudonne, a Mr. Basketball finalist, made four threes.
Trinity's Nathan Dieudonne shot over Clark County's Charlie Rogers in the first half. Dieudonne, a Mr. Basketball finalist, made four threes. HERALD-LEADER

The Big Green Machine, aka No. 1 Trinity, was missing a couple of key cogs, but it didn't matter as it continued to steamroll through the Sweet Sixteen.

Playing without two starters, Trinity still flattened Clark County 62-39 in the quarterfinals of the 95th PNC/KHSAA State Basketball Tournament in front of 14,181 fans in Rupp Arena on Friday afternoon.

It was the Shamrocks' 16th victory in a row and earned them a spot in Saturday morning's St. Patrick's Day semifinals against Southwestern.

Trinity was without junior standouts Darryl Hicks and James Quick, who sat out one game for disciplinary reasons.

Clark County Coach Scott Humphrey heard about the suspensions just before pre-game warm-ups, but he quickly realized it probably didn't make much difference.

"You look at that roster, and those are two great players they're missing," he said. "But now they just have 13 instead of 15."

Trinity got a superstar performance from 6-foot-7 Nathan Dieudonne, who a few hours earlier was named a finalist for Mr. Basketball.

"The last thing on my mind was Mr. Basketball," he said. "I was just focused all day, knowing we were missing two starters. Me and Troy (Saxton) got together and talked about how we had to step up."

Dieudonne, who has signed with Boston University, had 25 points, including a career-high four three-pointers, and eight rebounds.

The Rocks also got solid play from senior guards Charles Foster (14 points) and Saxton (12 points).

"They stepped up when we needed them the most," Coach Mike Szabo said. "That's what senior leaders are expected to do and they did that."

Trinity's defense was, as usual, suffocating. Clark County struggled to score. Adam Fatkin, a 6-6 senior center, and Bopper Stenzel, a 6-1 senior guard, were 10-for-22 from the field and combined for 26 points. The rest of the Cards had just two field goals among them, although Charlie Rogers made seven of eight free throws.

"Defensively, I thought we did a great job really locking them down in the half court, contesting shots and rebounding the ball," Szabo said.

Trinity was also terrific offensively, patiently looking for the open man and then firing in 10 of 15 three-pointers.

"Wow," Szabo said, unaware of the accuracy. "That is outstanding."

Humphrey said the Rocks' long-range gunning, especially by Dieudonne, was the difference.

"The threes, especially from Nate, were daggers. We wanted to make them a jump-shot shooting team. We felt like we could live with that.

"For them to shoot 66 percent on threes, that's very tough to overcome. That took the wind out of our sails. Whenever we made a run, he stepped up and knocked one down.

"A special player had a special game."

Szabo wasn't surprised that his team adjusted to playing without Quick and Hicks, who are especially valuable on defense. "We have 14 guys that practice, and we expect the same from No. 14 as No. 1," he said.

For Clark County, the lopsided loss didn't spoil its unexpected success this season. After graduating its top six players off last year's Sweet Sixteen team, the Cards had five new senior starters lead them to 30 wins and another region title.

"It's been fun," Stenzel said. "I'm glad that when we lost, it was in Rupp."

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