Local Sports, Sports, Trinity Christian

Warriors’ defense shines in OVAC semifinal win over Wellsville (Oh.)

MORGANTOWN — The term brick in basketball is not something a team would normally wish to accumulate. For years it has meant a very poor shot, one that has a better chance of shattering the fiberglass backboard than going through the hoop.

However, Trinity boys coach Codey Horton has borrowed an alternate definition from Drexel University, where a brick is three defensive stops in a row.

High on the hill in Sabraton last night, the Trinity Christian gym was rocking as the Warriors hosted Wellsville (Oh.) in the semifinals of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference tournament, and Trinity earned plenty of defensive bricks while avoiding the offensive variety on their way to a definitive 73-40 win.

“We’ve been emphasizing our defensive pressure for sure,” Horton explained following the victory. “It’s always what you need to be able to play well in the postseason, and that’s what we’ve been building toward all year. We just held a good, 9-win team to 40 points.”

Played at an entertainingly frenetic pace, the No. 2-seeded Warriors raced out to an early lead, aided by an 11-0 run to lead 18-6 after the first quarter. In the second, both teams tightened up defensively – especially on the glass – through the first five minutes of the quarter, until Wellsville (9-10) forward Tyrell Watkins and guard Austin Adkins got hot behind the arc. Watkins nailed one, then Adkins followed with a pair of rainbows, and suddenly the Tigers had crept to within six at 27-21 at the 2:23 mark.

Enter TCS sophomore Parker Hopkins. The shooting guard drilled a big three ball with 1:06 left, then buried a buzzer-beating dagger to restore the Warriors’ double-digit lead to 33-21 at the break.

“Parker’s been working hard on his shot in practice,” Horton said, “so it was especially gratifying to see him get results like that, especially at the end of the half. That was a big moment in the game for sure.”

The pace of play slowed a little in the third quarter, as the Warriors maintained a 10-point advantage midway through, 40-30.

And then the Warriors’ defense started gathering their bricks in bunches, forcing numerous turnovers, converting most into transition lay-ups, and when Hopkins swished another three, Trinity’s lead had almost instantly doubled. By the time the period ended, the Warriors had roared out on a 17-3 run to stretch their lead to a back-breaking 14 points, 57-33. The Tigers had no fight left in them after that, as Trinity won going away.

The balanced Warriors offense featured four players who finished with double figures in points,  led by Carter Hartsock’s 17, Chayce Adams with 16, and Hopkins and Lucas Kniska with 14 each.

“I thought we shot the ball well at crucial times tonight,” Horton said. “When we swing the ball crisply, and make one or two extra passes, we generate more open looks, and the shots fall a little easier. All in all, a good win, and I feel like we’re starting to peak at the right time and we have a chance to reach our first goal of the year, which is winning the OVAC.”

The Warriors advance to the OVAC Championship against Cameron on Saturday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. at Harrison Central High School in Cadiz, Oh.

“Cameron is going to be a real tough challenge – they were seeded No. 1 for a reason,”Horton said. “We know we’ll have to play 32 minutes of good quality basketball to have a chance, but we’re certainly looking forward to the challenge.”


Trinity Christian 73, Wellsville (Oh.) 40
Wellsville                   6    15    12     7   –  40
Trinity Christian      18   15    24   16   –  73
WELLSVILLE (9-10) — Richie Dowling 2 0-0 4; Nate McGraw 3 0-0 6; Tyrell Watkins 6 0-3 14; Austin Adkins 3 0-0 9; Elijah Douglas 1 1-2 3; Korben Kersey 1 0-0 2; Andrew Mackey 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 1-5 40.
TRINITY CHRISTIAN (10-6) — Ben Lohmann 2 0-0 4; Austin Porta 3 0-0 6; Lucas Kniska 5 3-3 14; Chayce Adams 7 1-2 16; Carter Hartsock 8 1-3 17; Marcos Kniska 1 0-0 2; Parker Hopkins 4 2-3 14. Totals 30 7-11 73.
3-Pt. Goals – Wellsville 5 (Adkins 3, Watkins 2). Trinity Christian 6 (Hopkins 4, L. Kniska, Adams).