Kutztown denied by Trinity in District 3 3A title bout

HERSHEY >> Unlike its one-point thriller over Lancaster Mennonite six nights ago in Hamburg to get here, Wednesday night’s District 3 3A championship game at Giant Center never felt like a competitive ballgame for the Kutztown Cougars.

Trinity scored the first six points of the game on a pair of 3-pointers during the first 90 seconds, raced to a big lead after the first period, then rode that out to a 17th district title — and fifth in a row — with a 53-43 win over Kutztown. The Cougars never came close to leading.

The Cougars were making their first D-3 title game appearance since 1985 and were attempting to win their first crown since 1963. Trinity, on the other hand, has made it old hat of late, with a school-unprecedented fifth straight (three under the old 2A classification, two in the new 3A) championship.

Kutztown had scraped by Mennonite, 49-48, last Thursday night in a 3A semifinal nail-biter to draw Trinity at Giant Center.

The Shamrocks showed why they are consistently at or near the top of District 3 postseason play on a yearly basis with a scintillating early attack from all points on the floor to bury the Cougars under an avalanche of points.

Trinity hit four 3-pointers during the inaugural eight minutes and a fifth moments into second quarter, opening up a 23-6 lead that felt as prohibitive as it indeed turned out to be. The closest the Cougars (20-4) got after that was 10 points twice — 31-21 after opening the second half with a 5-0 run, its largest of the contest — and the final score with the issue long decided.

“I always think back and honestly, I don’t know what we could have done differently,” Kutztown head coach Ted Snyder said with honesty and conviction.

“The whole first quarter they made shots and we didn’t know what to go to defensively. we tried man, and I thought they moved the ball around really well against the zone. We really had no answer for them. … They were physical with our cutters and made it hard for us to score.”

It likely would not have altered the outcome, but one thing that could have happened differently but didn’t was the level of involvement of Cougars’ star swingman Lorencz Jean-Baptiste. Jean-Baptiste scored nine points, but more importantly, touched the basketball just a handful of times in the first half and had just three points at the break, on 1-of-4 shooting.

Trinity (19-5) was well aware of Jean-Baptiste. The Shamrocks used a rotating coverage scheme to contain his potential impact. Trinity defensive stars Patrick Walker and Jack Bucher took turns blanketing the junior swing and severely limited his clean looks at the basket. In fact, it could be argued Jean-Baptiste didn’t get any clean looks at all the entire game. His lone bucket of the first half, in which Trinity led 31-16, came on a late three with a hand in his face from beyond the key in the dying moments before the break.

“They would throw help on the screens, but I also felt I was a little indecisive tonight,” Jean-Baptiste said. “I wasn’t scoring like I usually do. My shot wasn’t falling so I tried to get to the basket. And that was even harder, because that 6-11 kid (senior Trinity forward Sean Good) was there and he blocked a couple of my shots. I was trying to find openings but it was tough.”

Good came off the bench Wednesday night, four minutes into the game, after being cleared by medical personnel earlier in the day following what he said was a concussion suffered earlier in the tournament.

Trinity’s resident tree notched his career 1,000th rebound against Kutztown, as well as his 500th career bock. He clipped 1,000 points in his previous game, Trinity’s 55-46 conquest of Steel-High in the other 3A semifinal last week. It is a rare career triple in Pa. schoolboy ball; Good is the first player in Trinity’s storied history to accomplish it.

“Now that I’ve done it, it feels amazing,” Good said. “A thousand points, rare, but you can find it at most high schools. A thousand rebounds, I would definitely say I’m most proud of.” Good finished with eight points.

Brayden Eck led Kutztown with 12 points. Walker scored 12 to lead Trinity.

Kutztown will open its PIAA tournament on Saturday, March 1o against the third-place team from District 12.

District 3 3A championship

Giant Center, Hershey

Trinity 53, Kutztown 43

Trinity –  20  11  10  12 — 53

Kutztown –  6  10  13  14  — 43

Trinity: Long 4 0-0 11, Scarpelli 1 0-0 2, Veres 4 2-2 10, Walker 5 1-2 12, Bucher 3 2-2 10, Good 4 0-0 8, DeFrank 0 0-0 0, Patten 0 0-0 0, Ruiz 0 0-0 0, Moore 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 5-6 53.

3-pointers: 6 (Long 3, Bucher 2, Walker)

Kutztown: Eck 4 3-4 12, Jean-Baptiste 3 2-3 9, I Fegely 1 0-0 2, D Fegely 2 0-0 5, Angstadt 2 0-0 4, Fenerty 0 1-2 1, Floyd 2 3-3 7, Scheetz 1 0-0 3, Heffner 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15 9-12 43.

3-pointers: 4 (Eck, Jean-Baptiste, D Fegely, Scheetz)




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