Trinity boys basketball makes history in unlikely circumstances

The Trinity boys basketball team huddles around head coach Aaron Southwick during a timeout during the CIF-State Division V Regional Semifinals at Eastside High School. // Ryan Stuart/The Signal
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There has been no Trinity boys basketball team like this one.

The 2019-20 Knights made history and progressed further into the CIF State Championships than any other Trinity team ever.

“It’s amazing. Being able to go down as a great Trinity history team just feels so exciting,” said Trinity senior Kyle Fields. “I’m honored to be there. I couldn’t have done it without my brothers.”

After a devastating loss in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5A Championship Game, the Knights had to readjust their focus for the CIF State Division V Championships. They proved to be a fourth-quarter team as they surged past No. 4 seed San Fernando and No. 5 seed Arrowhead Christian and a Cinderella story began to unfold.

In the past two years, Trinity has been plagued with the curse of elimination in the early stages of the playoffs, losing in the first round both times. However, something was different about the 2019-20 team and they were able to break that curse.

More: Trinity boys hoops runs out of time against Eastside

“It’s amazing. Losing in the first round of the playoffs these last two years and then going to where we are now, I think the future is bright,” Fields said. “It’s very promising. We have a lot of younger guys that are looking to step up. I’m sure they can go just as far and win it all.”

The magic faded away after the Knights took a deflating loss against No. 1 seed Eastside in the regional semifinal round. But they didn’t fold. Instead, they took the No. 1 seed down to the wire, forcing them to land a last-second layup to win the game by one point.

“It feels good. I know we lost, but just making history like this and being a part of this team, it’s fun,” said Trinity sophomore John Cervantes-King. “We have fun out there.”

However, the magical part of the Knights’ journey into the madness of March basketball isn’t about making history as a team or a program. It’s about the odds the team faced each night as they stepped onto the hardwood and how they overcame them confidently.

“We’re just going to keep going and no matter what place we are, what seed we are, we’re not going to let that get to us. We just want to come out and play,” Cervantes-King said.

When CIF released the Division V bracket, it placed Trinity in an underdog situation. After having a stellar season, the Knights were placed as the No. 13 seed of their bracket, giving them no chance of playing at their home court and forcing them to travel throughout the tournament.

“We knew that we were the underdogs,” said Trinity senior Peyton Frazier. “We were the 13 seed. They thought 12 teams were better than us.”

Arguably, and proven so by the team, the Knights were a much better team and deserved a higher seed than the No. 13 seed. However, they decided rankings don’t matter and continued to show the CIF that it colored them the wrong shade.

The Knights produced upset after upset, winning against big crowds in Sylmar at San Fernando High School and Redlands at Arrowhead Christian Academy. They worked their way into being the lowest seed in the regional semifinals, surrounded by the No.1, No. 2 and No. 3 seed of their bracket. 

Peyton Frazier dribbles around an Eastside defender in the CIF-State Division V Regional Semifinals at Eastside High School. // Ryan Stuart/The Signal

“We just believed in ourselves from the start of the season,” Frazier said. “We all bought into the coaches’ game plans. We just gave it all we got. We just took it one step at a time. We didn’t listen to the outside distractions, we just worked on what the coaches told us to work on.”

Although they ultimately fell short of a state championship, they proved something to the rest of California: Trinity is a group of underdogs that will not be pushed around, and these dogs will bite hard. 

Now, with the greatest prize in high school basketball being just out of their reach, the Knights are hungry to come back and fight for a CIF State title. Perhaps they will make history again in the near future.

“We have a good team,” Cervantes-King said. “Don’t count us out. We’re going to come back next year and the year after that.”

Beware of these dogs in the future.

“They’re skilled,” Fields said of the younger players behind a smirk. “They’ve got confidence and I know with great leaders like John and Nathan, they’re going to be guided. They’ll be ready to step up when it counts. I’m excited for them.”

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