Joe Smith, Local Sports, Sports, Trinity Christian

Trinity boys’ hoops looks for a deeper run in the state tournament

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Trinity Christian basketball is hungry.
“We don’t want just a taste — we want the full meal,” said senior Joel Robertson. “We want that six-course meal. I’m talking two desserts.”
The meal in question is the Class A state basketball tournament, which the Warriors reached for the first time in six seasons last year. That appearance ended with a semifinal loss to eventual champion Wheeling Central, which weighed heavy on the 11 juniors in the locker room.
“They talked about how they got a taste of what it’s like to be in Charleston last year,” said head coach John Fowkes. “But for them, a taste wasn’t enough. They want it all. So that’s the motto right now.”
The buzz about “taste” certainly has the energy high in the locker room — there are even T-shirts in the works, according to Fowkes — but winning at the state tournament isn’t quite as easy as pigging out at dinner on Thanksgiving Day.
The Warriors return all but one starter and a tournament-tested team and Fowkes expects his team has the correct pieces for further success.
“We’ve got some explosive athletes. We’re going to start five guards, we’re going to play nine or ten kids, and we’re going to go full-court pressure the whole time” he said.
“I ask the kids to play as hard as they can until they can’t go anymore, then we’re going to have another kid that’s going to come in and do the same thing.”
The Warriors demonstrated some troubles last season in half-court offensive sets, and will look to remedy those issues with a high-octane approach to the game.
“Fast-paced is our thing this year. Last year we had a hard time getting set up with our half-court offense. This year, if we get more steals with our press this year, we don’t have to set up a half-court offense,” Robertson said.
Such a system requires a cohesive unit — a group of five athletes playing as one. Last year, there were issues that kept that type of bond from materializing fully, although flashes of it were shown. Now, the Warriors seem to be on the same page across the locker room.
“Last year, we had problem where some things we’re holding us back. This year, I think we’ll have that full perspective of playing as a team, and I think that’s what going to push us over the edge from last year,” Robertson said. “We’re going to have five guys out there that have an amazing friendship and know how to play as a team.”
“We’re a talented young group that’s been together since elementary and middle school,” added senior Briston Bennett. “We’ve got a lot of team chemistry.”
This type of combination of talent and teamwork makes for a special squad – it gives them a sort of “it-factor.” Whatever it is, when they play basketball together, they usually do it pretty well.
“It’s a group of kids that have gelled and grown up together. They know each other, trust each other, and want to do well. They’ve spent a lot of time together, and when they’re on the court, they just get it,” Fowkes said. “They’re in the rhythm and there just isn’t one guy looking to score all the points; its five guys out there working for the same thing.”