Trinity basketball coach Mike Szabo spent most of the first half of Wednesday night's game at Henry Clay up off the bench exhorting his team to rachet up its effort.
He continued delivering the "play hard" message at halftime, and well into the third quarter when the Shamrocks fell behind 42-33.
Then, as if somebody flipped a switch, Trinity began looking like the No. 2 team in the state.
Down 46-40 with two minutes left in the third quarter, the Rocks went on a 13-0 run and wound up beating No. 18 Henry Clay 62-53.
Christian Thieneman, a 6-foot-6 senior who's headed to Marshall, hit four three-pointers in a seven-minute stretch to spark the rally.
"When we're hitting shots, we're a totally different team," said Thieneman, who finished with 19 points, including 5-for-6 on threes. "We play harder on defense, get down in a stance, and our offense comes a lot easier. We just feel better and get more confidence overall."
Szabo preaches that effort is the key to the whole ballin' thing: "When you play hard, good things happen. You get your close-outs quicker, you get back on defense faster ... everything looks better and is more efficient when you play hard."
It helps that Trinity is loaded with talent, too.
Daniel Ramser, a 6-4 senior who has signed with Bellarmine, had 16 points.
D'Angelo West, a 6-2 senior transfer from Mississippi who's bound for Texas State, had 11 points.
And 6-foot-10 Ray Spalding, whom Rick Pitino landed for Louisville, contributed 10 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Henry Clay didn't back down, though. The Blue Devils, who pushed No. 1 Ballard into overtime last week before falling 79-75, gave a strong account of themselves against Trinity.
Jordan Houston, a 6-3 junior, was undersized against Spalding but battled his way to 18 points. Isaiah Tisdale, a 6-1 junior lefthander, also had 18 points.
Dakhari Campell added eight points. Point guard Felix Wilson had seven points, 10 assists and five rebounds. Colby Barnes had nine rebounds.
Henry Clay looked to be in position to pull the upset when it led 46-43 at the end of the third quarter. But then the Devils went cold and missed 11 of 13 shots in the fourth quarter.
"We had some real good looks but we just didn't make shots," Coach Daniel Brown said. "That what turned it. Our effort was there, but the shots wouldn't go down."
Brown was anything but discouraged.
"Playing Ballard last week and Trinity this week will prepare us," he said. "These are the type situations we need to be in. We'll learn from it."
This was the third season in a row Henry Clay has played Trinity. The Devils won 53-51 in Dec., 2012, and lost 58-50 in Dec., 2013.
TRINITY 62, HENRY CLAY 53
Trinity (16-4) — Spalding 10, Thieneman 19, Levitch 4, Ramser 16, West 11, Murphy 2.
Henry Clay (13-8) — Tisdale 18, Houston 18, Campbell 8, Ridgeway 1, Wilson 7, Mitchell 1.
Trinity 17 11 15 19—62
Henry Clay 15 12 19 7—53