High School Basketball

High school basketball preview: Starting the season as favorites

Trinity forward Ray Spalding, center, is the state's No. 1 ranked player on the state's No. 1 ranked team. He has committed to Louisville.
Trinity forward Ray Spalding, center, is the state's No. 1 ranked player on the state's No. 1 ranked team. He has committed to Louisville.

Louisville Trinity is an overwhelming choice as the No. 1 boys' team in the state and has the No. 1 player in Ray Spalding.

Elizabethtown is an overwhelming choice as the No. 1 girls' team in the state and has the No. 1 player in Erin Boley.

But as E-town Coach Tim Mudd cautioned, it's a long haul to March.

"There are so many things that go into it," said Mudd, who led the Panthers to the state championship in 1998, and runner-up finishes in 1997, 2009 and last season.

"You have to stay healthy. You need the bounce of the ball, and a call here and there to go your way. Anybody who says luck's not involved would be lying. You've gotta be fortunate to bring home the big prize."

It helps to have a lot of talent, however. Trinity and E-town are stocked with it.

Trinity returns six of its top eight players, and adds transfer D'Angelo West, an all-stater from Mississippi who has signed with Texas State.

"I like our team a lot," Shamrocks Coach Mike Szabo said. "It starts with the fact they're really good guys, great teammates and they play very, very unselfishly."

Spalding, a 6-foot-10 senior who signed with Louisville, averaged 13.6 points and 10.5 rebounds last year to help Trinity reach the Sweet Sixteen semifinals.

"Ray's obviously going to have a chance to be our leading scorer, mainly because he's 6-10 and a very good offensive rebounder," Szabo said. If he works and hustles and goes after balls, he'll get a bunch of points that way."

Trinity also returns 6-6 Jax Levitch (offers from Delaware, UNC Greensboro, UNC Wilmington, IUPUI), 6-4 Daniel Ramser (Bellarmine signee), 6-5 Christian Thienman (Marshall signee), 6-4 Jay Murphy (NYU signee) and 6-3 Michael Stafford.

"I like our length and our size, and I think we're a very skilled team," Szabo said. "Now we need the last piece of the puzzle — toughness."

E-town's Boley, rated one of the top juniors in the nation, has committed to Notre Dame. She averaged 20.2 points and 9.5 rebounds in leading the Panthers to a second-place finish to Butler last season.

The 6-2 Boley has talent around her, notably Division I signees Livie Bowling (Southern Illinois), Reauna Cleaver (Louisiana Tech and Darien Huff (College of Charleston).

"We do have some good talent and some valuable experience," Mudd said. "But we aren't very deep. We only go seven deep, so we need to stay injury free."

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