Trinity boys’ basketball team using passion in move toward top 149

MORGANTOWN — Passion is a funny thing.

It isn’t just excitement or energy, and it isn’t something that can be tampered with easily, or turned off at will. Passion is enthusiasm and desire so intense that it’s nearly uncontrollable, perhaps even impossible to suppress.

When properly channeled, it can turn the average into champions, and mere mortals into legend. Passion is what defines the No. 7 Trinity boys’ basketball team, and it’s what propelled the Warriors to a definitive 72-59 victory over No. 10 Greater Beckley Christian on Feb. 3.

“It’s not emotion. Emotion lasts for a couple minutes, a couple seconds — you get emotional, and then you get over it,” Trinity head coach John Fowkes said. “Passion never goes away, it’s always with you. I think that’s what we’re doing, is passion as a team. They want to be so successful.”

In Fowkes’ eyes, emotion loses games, but passion wins championships. It’s something he has preached all year to the Warriors, and he is excited to see the lesson finally sticking with his squad.

“The passion part is coming out, these kids love basketball,” Fowkes said. “At times this year we’ve played emotional, like Parkersburg Catholic, we played emotional and they came back and got us. You lose the emotion, but passion sticks.”

Trinity has come a long way from December, when it was team that would try to force entire possessions, and loved to launch shots from behind the arc rather than run offensive sets.

The Warriors worked the ball patiently on offense from buzzer to buzzer against Greater Beckley, refusing to settle for anything less than high-percentage opportunities. They proved unselfish, using extra passes and excellent floor spacing to open up one-on-one isolations and easy shots inside, decimating their opponents’ defense.

“That’s practice, they come in and practice hard every day,” Fowkes said. “They’ve taken the offense we’ve given them and they’re making the reads, and that’s the difference. You’ve got to read what the defense gives you, and we’re taking what they give us and with our offense, there are so many things we can do.”

Senior Jo Zini took control of the offense for the second straight game, pacing the Warriors with 24 points. He was a true difference maker for his team, reading the Greater Beckley defense to keep the offense flowing while finishing at the rim all afternoon and stepping up to make key plays.

“I really just went out there and took what the defense gave me,” Zini said. “I saw open gaps and attacked them; I saw my teammates open and got it to them.”

Zini said that he and his teammates have bought into a different mentality as they inch closer to March, and have seen it pay dividends.

“Coach told us we have to have a wolf pack mentality, just sticking together and attacking at every opportunity that we have. We’re really just trying to come out as a team and prove we can do that.”

Trinity moves to 11-4 with the win. It returns to action Feb. 7, against No. 3 Valley-Fayette, in the Little General Shootout. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 a.m., at West Virginia State.

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