Marc Spina huddles with Wash High players during a timeout.

Normally, the players on Washington High School’s basketball team can show their skills to head coach Ron Faust while on the court.

After a thrilling, 77-72, victory over crosstown rival Trinity Saturday at Hiller Hall, they’ll have to tell Faust about the game.

That’s because Faust was not in his normal spot along the bench. Faust missed yesterday’s game and Friday’s rout of Brownsville after being hospitalized with an illness.

Faust is expected to be back with the team within the week. In his place was assistant coach Marc Spina, who ran the team, and assistants Ryan Bunting and Anthony Belcastro.

“It’s hard not having Coach Faust here because he is such a phenomenal coach, but nothing changes,” said Spina. “The players have to keep their heads. They know what’s expected from them. In the last two games, they’ve done a decent job of doing that.”

The players can tell Faust how their defense held the Hillers (5-2), who already have played two games in which they scored more than 100 points, to only 72, eight points below their season average of 80.

This is the second time Trinity has scored 72 points in a game. The last time was in the second game of the season, a 72-64 victory over Canon-McMillan in the final of the Big Macs’ season-opening tournament.

This is the second straight game Washington scored 77 points. The Prexies (4-0) knocked off Brownsville, 77-33, two days ago.

“When Coach Faust went into the hospital, the kids were peaking in, looking for him,” said Spina. “They went up to see him. They’re worried, and they want him back, as we all do.”

Washington opened a 23-19 lead after the first quarter and Trinity seemed to chase that lead until the final buzzer.

The hot shooting of Michael Dunn in the first half – he sank four of six from three-point range – kept the Hillers close at the half. But Dunn, a 6-3 junior wing, scored only two points in the second half and finished with 16.

It was the exact opposite for Dylan King, a 6-4 senior power forward, who scored four first-half points then erupted for 25 in the second half to finish with a game-high 29 points.

“We didn’t get a lot of rhythm going all game,” said Trinity head coach Tim Tessmer. “It felt like we were forcing shots up and we made a ton of mistakes. We lose our minds too often. I know these guys get amped up to play (Wash High).”

Washington forced turnovers with its quickness and did a good job distributing the basketball. Brandon Patterson scored 18 of his team-high 23 points near the basket. He sank five of six free throws and Wash High drained 15 of 19.

“This was the flattest we played all season,” said Tessmer. “The first possession of the game, we looked like we didn’t know what we were doing. It felt like it continually went that way.”

Washington led 38-33 at halftime. Trinity tied it, 40-40, midway through the third quarter but never led in the second half.

A key series came early in the fourth quarter when Trinity cut the lead to five, 59-54, on a free throw by King. Jumpers by Marlon Norris and Ian Bredniak made 63-54 and a free throw by Patterson and a putback by Tayshawn Levy off Patterson’s missed second free-throw attempt for an unconventional three-point play that made it 66-56.

Bredniak, Levy and Norris each scored 15 points for the Prexies. Noah Johnson contributed 11 points for Trinity.

Assistant Sports Editor

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling.

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