January 21st, 2012
Shamrocks Get Defensive In Rivalry Win
Foster leads Trinity to 63-45 victory over St. Xavier
Maybe it's the idea of swiping a steal. Maybe it's the thought of creating havoc for the opposition.
Or maybe it's the constant shifting and adjusting of his trademark blue mouthpiece for the duration of a given game.
Whatever it is, Trinity High School senior guard Charles Foster seems to crack an ear-to-ear smile every time he engages and applies relentless high-octane defensive pressure to his game-to-game guarding assignments.
And usually, those quick hands and feet ultimately cause disruption which leads directly to offense.
Friday night, playing the final regular season game of his career against rival St. Xavier, Foster had plenty to smile about after the 6-foot-1 Morehead State University signee accounted for 3 of the Shamrocks' 17 steals, scored a game-high 17 points and helped Trinity stay unbeaten against in-state competition with a 63-45 win over the Tigers in front of 5,753 fans at Freedom Hall.
"A steal leads to a point. That's what we work on every day at practice," said Foster after the game. "I score off my defense. I play defense and just let my offense come. I'd rather somebody else score off my defense."
"(Playing defense like that) gets me fired up."
Foster scored 11 of those 17 points in the second half. He also added 7 rebounds and an assist to his impressive line score.
"He's a guy that really gets this team going with his defense," said Szabo of Foster. "We really feed off his energy and when he's getting deflections, getting steals, he makes us so much better."
Trinity, less than a week removed from its third Louisville Invitational Tournament championship in school history, led the Tigers by just four points at halftime after shooting 11-of-31 from the field in the first two quarters, but turned up the heat the second the whistle blew to signal the beginning of the third quarter.
Foster and his cohorts quickly found their rhythm with the full-court trap pressure that has caused fits for teams all season, and used a 10-0 run out of halftime to build a 37-23 lead with 5:51 to go in the third period.
Exactly a minute later, Shamrocks junior guard Darryl Hicks scored 3 of his 9 points on a trey that gave Trinity its largest lead at that point, a 40-25 advantage over St. Xavier with 4:51 to go in the third quarter. Hicks also finished with a game-high 8 steals and accounted for 3 assists.
"The guys came out of the locker room with a lot of energy, got a couple quick steals and really got us going," said Trinity head coach Mike Szabo.
"We took them lightly in the first half, so coach talked to us and said we had to turn our defense up, so we all came together and started to play," said Foster. "I told the other players it was my senior year. And that I wanted to go out with a win over St. X."
St. Xavier seemed to control the tempo early after rushing out to a 4-0 lead to start the game. The Tigers held a 14-12 advantage after the first quarter and went on a 5-0 run in the second quarter after Trinity senior forward Nathan Dieudonne picked up his second foul and headed for the bench at the second quarter's 5:18 mark.
And following a pair of free throws from St. X junior forward Christian Hardy, the Tigers reclaimed a 21-20 lead with 3:44 to go until halftime.
But Shamrocks junior guard James Quick quickly put an end to any potential momentum that St. X was building and went on a personal 7-0 run and put his team ahead 27-23 at the midway break. Quick finished the game with 11 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
Tigers junior center Brock Kiesler and sophomore point guard Robert Shaw each both chipped in six points during the first half to keep St. X within striking distance of the Rocks.
"When playing St. X we know they're going to come out and play really, really hard, and we expected that," said Szabo. "(St. Xavier) did a nice job in the first half and played well."
The Tigers did manage to cut Trinity's lead to 47-37 on Hardy's offensive rebound and putback with 5:10 remaining in the game, but Trinity answered one last time with a countering 6-0 run and took control one last time.
No St. X player reached double digits in scoring. Senior forward Nathan Smith was the closest with 9 points; he scored 8 of those in the second half. Smith also accumulated 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 assists.
Kiesler (8) and Shaw (8) combined for 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Kiesler also had 2 blocked shots. Hardy finished with 6 points and 6 rebounds off the bench and played well in the place of injured senior forward Chris Mitchell. Junior shooting guard Justin Moody also notched six points, including a 3-pointer that came in the first quarter.
Dieudonne, who gave Trinity its first lead of the game (16-14) with a dunk at the 6:59 mark in the second quarter, finished with 11 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists despite early foul trouble.
Trinity has now won six straight games in the basketball rivalry series and eight of the last nine. The state's top-ranked Shamrocks extended its overall winning streak to 12 games, tied for the second longest streak in program history, and ran its record to 15-0 against teams from Kentucky. Every win against in-state competition this season has been by at least 13 points.
Trinity is also 7-1 against the Tigers when playing at Freedom Hall since the series moved to the venue in 2004.
"I think it's really neat - two schools that are so similar and so competitive in so many different ways, and to have this kind of support of the alumni in both places really makes it special," said Szabo. "We know that it's a big deal. That's it's a bragging rights kind of thing, so we all respect that. And that's certainly great motivation to really want to do well for the guys that have come before us."
Friday's Shamrock victory also gave Trinity’s current senior class win No. 86 of their high school careers, setting a new program record for wins by a graduating class. Dieudonne, Foster, Troy Saxton, Hunter Hepler, Andrew Perito and Damon Thurman have an 86-22 record in their time at Trinity.
The Rocks can't celebrate the win over St. X for long. Trinity will turn around and travel to face undefeated Madison Central on Saturday night in the Joe B. Hall Classic at Montgomery County High School. The Indians have scored over 1,400 points so far in 2011-12 and defeated Lincoln County 50-49 on Friday to move to 19-0 on the season.
"It's a great opportunity and I know (my team). They'll bounce back and be ready for the challenge tomorrow," said Szabo. "They're competitive guys. They'll be ready."
Saturday's game between No. 1 Trinity (17-2) and No. 2 Madison Central is scheduled for 7:15pm.
St. Xavier (12-7) has a week off before returning to action. The Tigers' next game is at Ballard on Jan. 27.
For video highlights from Friday's Trinity vs. St. Xavier basketball game, visit: http://catholicsportsnet.com/louisville/view_csn_video/261