July 3rd, 2012
LCS.com Year In Review: Boys Basketball
Trinity makes history with first-ever Sweet 16 crown
LouisvilleCatholicSports.com chronicles the 2011-2012 sports year in review. We will bring you every sport, every season, every team’s results in a capsule each weekday until we're finished. From Cross-Country to Softball and all sports in between, here’s what happened in 2011-2012 on the Louisville Catholic sports scene.
The Trinity Shamrocks brought home their first ever Sweet 16 championship and, adding that to their football state championship from the fall, made history as the only school to win the football and basketball state championships in the same school year. St. Xavier had their best season in nearly two decades and DeSales and Holy Cross battled in the All-A regional tournament. Here's a look back at the superb basketball season from the local Catholic boys teams.
DeSales - record: 11-16; 22nd District Quarterfinalists -- 7th Region All-A Champions
Head coach John Mingus could point to a tough schedule, a young team (six sophomores and five freshmen) or any number of obstacles that led to the Colts' sub-.500 finish, but he wouldn't ever do that. The 2001 DeSales alum worked hard all season to get the most out of his squad. Senior big man Evan Bingham, selected to the All-Catholic fist team, was the team's most consistent threat. Fellow senior guard Cameron Duncan, a second team All-Catholic selection, was the most lethal perimeter player. With Mr. Inside (Bingham) and Mr. Outside (Duncan), the team had two steady, consistent veterans to keep the Colts competitive.
With all of their youth, though, the Colts had problems maintaining consistency throughout the season. They were the 7th Region representative in the All-A State Tournament, defeating arch rival Holy Cross for the right to go to Frankfort and compete for the All-A State title. Though they lost to Danville, 46-41, the Colts gained valuable experience along the way. With sophomore Nathan Roush, third team All-Catholic selection, manning the point guard and learning the position that Mingus held in his playing days, DeSales should be in good hands for the coming years.
Holy Cross - record: 9-21; 21st District Quarterfinalists - 7th Region All-A runners-up
The Cougars had to overcome injuries and a roster that had an odd quirk. Seven seniors and seven sophomores made up the varsity squad for Holy Cross and the results were a mixed bag of tough losses, solid wins and some predictable big losses to some of the more experienced, talented teams they faced. Led by senior forward Dylan Bickel (second team All-Catholic selection) and senior guard Jake Kaelin (third team All-Catholic selection), the undersized Cougars had difficulty keeping teams from scoring inside as they allowed 65 points/game while only scoring 60 per game.
With two wins to start the season over Evangel and on the road at Christian Academy, the Cougars seemed poised for a big season. But injuries curtailed some of that progress with senior three year letterman Kendall Hammerstrom missing time as well as sophomore guard Dominique Mack (third team All-Catholic). And then an eight game losing streak put them into a tailspin, and the team suffered six straight losses to close out the season. The experience gained by those seven sophomores should help bolster the squad in 2012-2013 as head coach Mike Durham, Sr, looks to get his team on the plus side of .500.
St. Xavier - record: 23-9; 7th Region Finalists
The Tigers had one of their best seasons of the last two decades. After two sluggish losses in the Republic Bank Holiday Classic tournament left the team with an 8-5 record, head coach Kevin Klein challenged his young squad to come together as a team. And come together they did. The tigers were 15-4 the remainder of the season and notched big wins over Manual, Male (three times) and Central as they peeled off 10 straight wins at the end of the season before losing to Trinity in the 7th Region championship game.
Klein, the architect of this fast developing program and the 7th Region Coach of the Year, endured a tumultuous season in dealing with his young daughter's illness. But he, his staff and players persevered to become one of the big success stories of the 2011-2012 season. The heart and soul of the team came from senior forward and first team All-Catholic selection Nathan Smith. The gritty, gutsy, undersized Smith played with passion on both ends of the floor and was a tenacious rebounder. His fire fueled the young Tigers and propelled them on their late season win streak.
Smith's never quit style helped 6'9" junior center Brock Kiesler (second team All-Catholic) to develop into a legitimate threat all over the court. Kiesler developed a strong game around the basket and became a big-time shot blocker down the stretch. Sophomore Robert Shaw (second team All-Catholic) manned the point guard position and showed glimpses of his dynamic potential as a floor general and scorer. And junior forward Alex Jones (third team All-Catholic) consistently made big basket after big basket during the team's stretch run to the playoffs.
The Tigers have arrived under Klein and his staff. The key will be to take this past season's success and apply it to next year, when opponents will be giving them a lot more attention.
Trinity - record: 35-3; Kentucky Sweet 16 State Champions
The talent was undeniable. Start with Kentucky AP Player of the Year senior forward Nathan Dieudonne (first team All-Catholic and Boston University signee); add guard Morehead State signee Charles Foster (first team All-Catholic), guard and Alabama-Huntsville signee Troy Saxton (third team All-Catholic), and juniors Darryl Hicks (first team All-Catholic) and James Quick (second team All-Catholic), and you had a quintet of talent unmatched in the state and region.
Head coach Mike Szabo's team went 33-1 against Kentucky competition. He built this team on a rugged, tough defense that allowed only 50.2 pts/game. The Shamrocks enjoyed wining streaks of 5 and 12 games and then ran-off 18 straight to end the season as state champions. Along the way they recorded wins over Top 20 teams Scott County (twice), Bullitt East, Ballard and Pleasure Ridge Park. The road warriors were 26-3 away from the confines of their home court and displayed a gritty toughness that few opponents could overcome.
Said Szabo after the championship victory: “These guys are so tough. It’s neat to have gone out every night with that (No. 1) target on our back and win. Defense wins championships and these guys locked down in the half court.”
The talented 6'6" Dieudonne echoed his coaches defense-first mantra. After the championship win, the Sweet 16 MVP talked about point guard Charles Foster and his inspired play: “Coach Szabo really pushed us and it paid off in the end. But it really started with Charles. Honestly, he prides himself on defense and he’s probably the best defender in the state. We really fed off his energy every game and we were not going to let him down.”
The Shamrocks completed the rarest of feats as they brought home the football and basketball championship trophies; a first in Kentucky prep history. Szabo will have his young group poised to follow this team's defense-first attitude as they prepare to defend their crown in 2012-2013.
G: Charles Foster, Trinity
G: Darryl Hicks, Trinity
F: Nathan Smith, St. Xavier
F: Nathan Dieudonne, Trinity
C: Evan Bingham, DeSales
G: Cameron Duncan, DeSales
G: Robert Shaw, St. Xavier
G: James Quick, Trinity
F: Dylan Bickel, Holy Cross
C: Brock Kiesler, St. Xavier
G: Troy Saxton, Trinity
G: Nathan Roush, DeSales
G: Jake Kaelin, Holy Cross
F: Alex Jones, St. Xavier
F: Dominique Mack, Holy Cross