Earning a first-round bye in the CIF- Southern Section Division 5AA playoffs, the Trinity Classical Academy girls hoops team flexed their muscles, winning their first playoff contest of the season on the road in a 60-32 victory over Riverside County Education on Saturday.
The result extends Trinity’s winning streak to 17 games with the double-digit win in the second round. The Knights did it by handing the Wolf Pack their fifth loss of the year and their first since Jan. 23.
“When you get to the playoffs, everything gets tougher and tougher and tougher,” said Trinity head coach Daniel Hebert. “You have a huge target on your head when you are on a three-game winning streak, nonetheless a 17-game winning streak. We have known that for a while and faced a lot of adversity because of that and I think that we are pretty happy with where we have gotten and how far we have left.
“We have continued to strive and push further and further, we didn’t stop at a 10-game winning streak or 15-game winning streak, so we feel pretty good about continuing and trying to get it to 20 with a win.”
Senior guard Trinity Towns led the Knights to the victory with 27 points, six rebounds and was active on defense with five steals.
“Trin is hitting any shot that she gets right now,” Hebert said. “The second half, she was getting steal, layup, steal, layup over and over. She has earned the role on the team that we play around her or Lily (Caddow) and she knows what to do now.”
Trinity (18-8 overall) finished the regular season 12-0 in league play and were named back-to-back undefeated Heritage League Champs, while Riverside County, similarly, went undefeated in the Warrior League going 10-0.
On paper, it appeared that the two teams were evenly matched, but when the Knights took the floor, they saw a glaring difference. The Wolf Pack held a huge height advantage featuring four 6-footers on their roster.
“We were a little undersized,” Hebert said jokingly.
The Knights had some trouble setting up their offense to begin the contest due to the 2-3 Zone that Riverside County employed, utilizing their length and size at every position.
“It’s a little challenging to get passes through and they were active and athletic and it was a little uncomfortable for our whole team,” Hebert said.
Hanging with Riverside County through the first half, Trinity played solid defense and went on a 20-0 run in the third quarter by moving the ball around the perimeter, vying for the best shot. After that, the Knights’ victory was never in question.
Katie Brown and Riley Spector were huge on both sides of the ball in the win for the Knights. Brown recorded a double-double with 10 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks. Spector had 12 points and five steals.
“Every time we play a team with a good defender down low we say they are like Katie,” Hebert said. “She has a really good feel for where to be, has really good timing and really finds the ball well. With Katie down there we feel really good about having her as the anchor of our defense and really protecting the paint which allows us to put pressure on teams. If we happen to get beat once or twice, Katie is there to help and bail us out.”
Trinity advances to its second straight quarter finals where they will host San Bernardino at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
“They are in a tough league, it’s a big school, but we feel that we are pretty unstoppable right now and we are ready to show it against this bigger school,” Hebert said.
Vista Del Lago 45, Santa Clarita Christian School 43
The Cardinals were led by Kelly Lotz who finished with 20 points, Gianna Pelletier had 13, Emily Bernards finished with six and Ella Banke and Delaney Malloy combined to add five points in the loss on Saturday.
SCCS finishes the 2019-20 season, with an overall record of 17-8 and in third place in Heritage League standings at 9-3.