Trinity boys trying to shake off struggles

Published 11:46 pm Sunday, February 15, 2009

NATCHEZ — Trinity Episcopal is in a familiar place this week.

The Saints are preparing for the MPSA Class AA State Tournament at Brookhaven Academy.

What’s not so familiar for Trinity is its struggles late in the season.

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The Saints have put together solid play in some games but haven’t been able to pull together consecutive performances.

Coach David King puts the blame on himself.

“I just can’t blame it on anything other than my inability to get my team up two nights in a row,” he said. “It’s my fault.”

The Saints put together an outstanding defensive performance in the South State semifinals, defeating Brookhaven 42-39.

But the next night, Trinity allowed 63 points en route to a loss to Claiborne Academy in the championship game.

Now the Saints are in a position to take home the state title, but the road gets no easier this week.

Trinity will take on Lee Academy of Clarksdale at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday — Lee won the North’s consolation game against Marshall Academy.

“They’re well-coached, and they’re in the state tournament for a reason,” King said. “Every team from now on is going to be outstanding, so you can’t take anything for granted.

“You have to bring you’re a game, your track shoes and your football cleats.”

The Lady Saints also made it into the state tournament by playing in the consolation game.

The Trinity girls fell to Prairie View 56-43 Saturday night and will take on Leake Academy at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Leake, the No. 1 seed from the North, won the North Tournament championship by defeating Marshall 66-59.

Trinity girls coach Richy Spears said he didn’t know much about Leake except what he’s seen in years past.

“They’re a pressing team — they press, and they score off turnovers,” Spears said. “They’ve done that ever since I can remember, 20 years or so. I’ll find out more this week.”

Spears said he hasn’t seen Leake Academy play this season, but he has a general idea of what the No. 4-seed Lady Saints will have to do to move on to the second round.

“We will have to break their press and get some transition buckets and fast break opportunities,” he said. “If we can get some decent shots off them we’ll be OK.”

The Lady Saints (22-15) struggled the past two games without Madelyn Cross.

Cross had an unscheduled appendectomy Wednesday morning, leaving Trinity scrambling to learn how to play without her.

While the Saints performed better in their second game in Cross’s absence, they’re still hopeful she could be back on the court this week.

“It’s still different. There are people in different roles than normal,” Spears said. “I’m glad we have had two games without her to get it together.

“I talked to (Cross on Saturday) and she said she was feeling a whole lot better, not near as sore as she was yesterday, so we’re just crossing our fingers.”

Coach King is crossing his fingers as well, hoping Sunday and Monday will be enough rest for the No. 2-seed Saints to regain their intensity for the first round against No. 3-seed Leake.

He said fatigue could have been a factor in Trinity’s loss Saturday, but they’ll just have to get over it.

“Our team plays hard, but we seem to play great some nights and some nights we’re off,” he said. “You can’t do that in a tournament. You’ve got to be able to stay up the whole week.”

King said because the Saints know what they have to do now, he expects they’ll be ready to play come Tuesday.

“I haven’t found the right method, but we’re still working at it,” he said. “I know these kids will be hungry. We’ve been in the state tournament every year, so we’re in a common place. We’ve just got to get to where we can be consistent.”