MORGANTOWN — After falling one game short of a state tournament bid last year, the Trinity Christian girls’ basketball team has high hopes again entering 2022-23.
“I think they have a very good chance of being a successful team,” said eighth-year head coach Mike Baldy. “We’ve got to stay healthy, we have to stay out of foul trouble and we have to be in good shape.”
Trinity (17-7 last season) comes into the year with very little varsity depth, but a top-heavy roster that features junior standouts Jenna Barnett (5-7) and Sucora Brown (5-6).
“We pretty much knew that was the way it was going to be,” Baldy said. “Those two are right up there as good as any players we’ve had in the last 10 years at Trinity.”
Baldy describes Barnett, who averaged 14.9 points per game last season, as potentially one of the best players ever to suit up for the Warriors.
“She’s right up there for the best player I’ve ever had at Trinity,” he said. “This is the first year where Jenna’s been completely in the leadership role and she’s doing a really nice job at that. She gets along with all the girls, everyone likes her, she’s a super-sweet kid and can just flat-out play.”
Also a standout long-distance runner, Barnett was initially on the fence about even playing basketball. She’s been able to work out a way to do both and is happier for it.
“I’m getting to do both things I love without quitting one or the other, which has been really big for me,” Barnett said. “I’m glad I didn’t quit because it’s been a lot more fun.”
Like Barnett, Brown also played another sport growing up — tackle football.
“Just physically, she’s a beast,” Baldy said. “She used to play football and a lot of times you’ll see the stories of girls who will be football — she played middle linebacker.”
Brown averaged nine points and 8.5 rebounds last season. Baldy said he wouldn’t be surprised if those numbers jump up to 15 and 12 as a junior, calling her a “walking double-double.”
Other players Baldy is penciling into the starting lineup are returning contributors Ella Lynch (5-7) and Kaylee Wimer (5-2), both juniors, and promising sophomore Abigail Fisher (6-1).
“After that, we really don’t have a lot that’s ready for varsity ball,” Baldy said. “We have some girls who will show spurts of shooting well or playing hard, but we don’t have what we need to compete at a high level on varsity after that.”
The lone senior on the team is Lilly Burrell (5-8) with Avery Malone (5-10) rounding out the junior class and Merci Crites (5-3) as the only other sophomore. There are four freshmen on the team, Anna Lohman (5-5), Hannah Turner (5-5), Laura Dinkel (5-8) and Sydney Baston (5-7).
Even with a shorter rotation than last year, Barnett said she expects the Warriors to play at a quick pace this season.
“I think it’s going to be more of a defense-into-quick-offense team,” Barnett offered. “I feel like we’re going to sit in our defense and get steals. I know we’re going to run offense very well, but I don’t honestly feel like we’ll run offense much.”
Trinity opens the season Thursday on the road against in-section opponent Braxton County.