A lot of Friday night was new to the Trinity High School girls basketball team.
New season. New coach. New uniforms. New style of play.
Yet, the tight-knit group rallied even more after a controversial offseason and relied on something that wasn’t new – playing together, relying on one another.
With a chemistry that looked in midseason form, and the addition of freshman Eden Williamson, the Hillers turned full-court pressure defense into easy baskets on offense to trounce Our Lady of Sacred Heart, 74-30, in the Trinity Tip-Off Tournament at Hiller Hall.
“I think the chemistry is evolving into something really special,” said Trinity first-year coach Kathy McConnell-Miller. “They are unselfish and always make the extra pass. The way they are coming together on the floor made me the happiest.”
The win advances Trinity into the tournament’s championship at 4:30 p.m. today against Blackhawk, which defeated Canon-McMillan in the tournament opener, 72-23. The Big Macs will play OLSH in a consolation game at 3 p.m.
It was all new to Williamson in her first varsity game. She quickly shook off any nerves, scoring 16 points and grabbing six rebounds as the Hillers ran away from OLSH early with a 14-0 run lasting most of the first quarter.
“I was able to shake off the nerves pretty quickly,” Williamson said. “I really felt good. We like to push the tempo and have been pushed in practice. We know what we are capable of. We were really prepared.”
All the Hillers seemed prepared as McConnell-Miller continued to rotate in new players, keeping Trinity fresh for its up-tempo onslaught throughout the first three quarters when it forced 18 turnovers.
Kaylin Venick helped put the Hillers’ lead further out of reach in the second quarter with a three-pointer, a jumper and a layup with just over four-and-a-half minutes left to spark a 19-point run. OLSH had an early three-pointer in the first quarter, made a pair of free throws with 49 seconds left in the first and didn’t score again until 2:55 left until halftime.
Trinity led 38-10 at the break.
“We are able to push the ball and as soon as we are tired another player can come in to do the same thing,” Williamson said. “That helps us keep the tempo. It helps us continue to push.”
Trinity’s Riley DeRubbo led all scorers with 20 points. She was one of four players – Marlaina Bozek, Courtney Dahlquist and Williamson were the others – to have at least five rebounds. Ashley Durig added 11 points of the bench.
Haley Hamilton scored eight points for OLSH, the defending WPIAL Class 2A champion.
“You are going to find that we prefer a high-possession game,” McConnell-Miller said. “We have more success when we are pressing and creating turnovers from our defense. I feel like (our players) are in pretty good shape at this point based off practices and how we’ve prepared them.”
Three different players scored in double figures for Blackhawk as inexperienced Canon-McMillan couldn’t keep up in a 72-23 loss for the Big Macs in the opener.
Alivia Thompson led Blackhawk with 16 points. Mackenzie Amalia and Sierra Richard also scoured in double figures for the Cougars with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
“We are young and inexperienced,” said Brittany Taylor, who made her debut as Canon-McMillan’s coach. “It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s about correcting and critiquing the little things and working on them every day.”
Unforced turnovers will be one of the biggest focuses for the Big Macs. Multiple turnovers in the backcourt led to easy baskets for Blackhawk, which prompted the Cougars’ 22-4 scoring advantage in the second quarter to a 39-13 halftime lead.
Canon-McMillan’s Kelsey Wandera scored a team-high eight points.
“It’s a building year,” Taylor said. “We will continue to build. I’ve been telling the girls to trust the process and we will get there as long as they buy in.”