Trinity basketball wins playoff thriller over Westminster  

Cy Mitchell (2) of Trinity Classical Academy shoots against Westminster High at The Master's University on Saturday, 021024. Dan Watson/The Signal
Cy Mitchell (2) of Trinity Classical Academy shoots against Westminster High at The Master's University on Saturday, 021024. Dan Watson/The Signal
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The Westminster Lions entered their playoff matchup with the Trinity Knights with a clear game plan: stop, pressure and harass point guard Cy Mitchell. 

While the Lions forced some turnovers, Mitchell tore through his defenders and made some key passes and rebounds to seal the 65-59 win over Westminster on Saturday.  

Mitchell finished the game with 21 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists, while having at least one defender at his hip throughout the Division 5AA second round contest at The Master’s University. 

“We don’t win this game without (Mitchell). He is a dominant point guard,” said Knights coach Daniel Hebert. “We knew what they were going to do and we were ready for it … We watched film together and studied them. It was the longest sheet I’ve ever had on an opposing team.” 

The Lions’ physical play cost them early as the team wound up over the foul limit in the first five minutes of play, with the Knights’ point guard taking most of the beating. Mitchell, a junior, kept his composure throughout the game. 

Trinity Classical Academy celebrates their lead in the fourth quarter against Westminster High at The Master's University on Saturday, 021024.  Dan Watson/The Signal
Trinity Classical Academy celebrates their lead in the fourth quarter against Westminster High at The Master’s University on Saturday, 021024. Dan Watson/The Signal

“We’ve won a few close games and that’s really showed us how to pull through and face adversity when it hits, especially in those high-adrenaline, high-stake moments,” Mitchell said. 

Westminster stayed aggressive but was a little cleaner on defense for the remainder of the contest as they cut at Trinity’s lead. 

The Lions’ energy was tough to match, and led to dozens of second-chance opportunities, including the team’s crunch-time possession with less than a minute to go. Westminster got off five looks in the possession thanks to some fantastic offensive rebounding, but Trinity’s defense forced one tough shot after another, leading to no points. 

After the possession, Lions’ coach CJ Hollingsworth was livid after the play and was assessed a technical foul, which gave Trinity just enough points at the line to pull ahead comfortably. 

Trinity senior Lucas Spring was clutch at the free throw line to finish, and tallied up 19 points and 13 rebounds. Spring typically leads the Knights in scoring, but didn’t even take a shot until midway through the second. It was good sign for Hebert to see Trinity showing it can find ways to win with its primary ball-handler under duress and leading scorer helping in other ways. 

Lucas Spring (24) of Trinity Classical Academy drives to the basket  against Westminster High defender MJ Gaza (24) in the first half at The Master's University on Saturday, 021024.  Dan Watson/The Signal
Lucas Spring (24) of Trinity Classical Academy drives to the basket against Westminster High defender MJ Gaza (24) in the first half at The Master’s University on Saturday, 021024. Dan Watson/The Signal

“We’ve been saying ‘together’ (after huddles) and that’s what we’ve bought into,” Hebert said. “Someone’s going to turn it over, make a mistake and we have to stay together. That’s what the best teams do. We’ve really been focusing on that all year and it’s a big part of a lot of the stuff we try and teach at Trinity.” 

After a lackluster first quarter in which the Lions looked timid on offense with open looks, the team fired back. Westminster moved the ball more effectively and found its first lead of the game after a 7-0 run late in the quarter.  

Back-to-back 3-pointers from Spring and sophomore Noah Phillips ended the run and put Trinity back up at halftime.  

Phillips played well all over the court and finished with nine points, 10 boards, five assists and two steals. 

The Lions forced two turnovers in the first 15 seconds of play in the second half and looked like they might run away with it in the second half. Trinity stayed the course and kept finding ways to score. Mitchell gutted the Westminster momentum with an inbound pass he threw off a defender’s back to himself for an easy lay-in. 

Noah McWilliams (3) of Trinity Classical Academy shoots  against Westminster High defender Matt Tan (12) in the fourth quarter at The Master's University on Saturday, 021024.  Dan Watson/The Signal
Noah McWilliams (3) of Trinity Classical Academy shoots against Westminster High defender Matt Tan (12) in the fourth quarter at The Master’s University on Saturday, 021024. Dan Watson/The Signal

“We were pretty hyped,” Mitchell said. “This was an amazing game to win and I know we’re gonna play the exact same way against the next team and give it 110%.” 

Knights senior Conrad Alderson got going in the fourth quarter, in which he scored all 10 of his points. Alderson led the team in scoring in the final quarter and was key in the Knights’ victory. 

Also coming up big was Trinity freshman Matthew te Winkle, who didn’t score much but added some big offensive rebounds in his time on the court.  

Trinity has now won five straight games and moves on to host another home game in the CIF quarterfinals. The Knights will welcome the top-seeded El Segundo Eagles (21-9). 

“We’re hungry and we’re enjoying it every step of the way,” Hebert said. “It’s a battle and really competitive. It’s hard to win that many games in a row. That’s our fifth in a row, but second playoff game in a row, and we’ve played some tough physical teams. We feel good about where we’re at, but we’re enjoying every step of the way.” 

Trinity hosts El Segundo on Tuesday at 7 p.m. back at The Master’s University. 

Conrad Alderson (23) of Trinity Classical Academy shoots against Westminster High in the first half at The Master's University on Saturday, 021024.  Dan Watson/The Signal
Conrad Alderson (23) of Trinity Classical Academy shoots against Westminster High in the first half at The Master’s University on Saturday, 021024. Dan Watson/The Signal

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