PARK CITY — Trinity Academy’s girls pestered Frontenac with a full-court press, drove unintimidated into the lane, dove after loose balls and hustled toward passing lanes to intercept errant attempts.
None of that, though, made the Knights any taller.
Trinity was unable to match up to Frontenac in the post, which led to an extreme rebounding disparity and a 55-46 win for the Raiders in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A-Division II girls basketball tournament at Hartman Arena.
Trinity was game for the challenge of facing a team by which it was physically overmatched, but the Knights’ inferiority inside couldn’t be overcome. Frontenac outrebounded Trinity 40-16 and had 15 offensive rebounds.
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“We’re a smaller team, but that effort that you see tonight is how they play day-in and day-out and how they practice,” Trinity coach Brett Gunderson said. “It’s not a new thing for them to want something so bad.”
Frontenac boasts four players taller than Ashley West, Trinity’s tallest regular. The final rebounding reflects the Raiders’ advantage on the glass, but early on Frontenac snared several long rebounds that didn’t necessarily come from boxing out or superior height.
Those plays kept Trinity from asserting itself early because, even though the Knights were forcing Frontenac into difficult shots, second-chance baskets contributed to Frontenac taking a 12-4 lead in the first quarter.
Bailey Flora and Ryleigh McCartney combined for 10 offensive rebounds and 18 rebounds overall, and Flora’s work on the boards helped her score five points in the first quarter, including three trips to the free-throw line.
“(Flora and McCartney) are pretty solid players,” Gunderson said. “They’re going to give a lot of people fits as they go throughout the tournament. I thought it was a physical game. I thought we were stepping up and being physical and trying to master rebound, but those kids (for Frontenac) were so strong.
“They knew how to get positioning, and if a shot goes up, they got good positioning on us.”
Trinity never solved its rebounding deficiencies, but by late in the first quarter the Knights found a way to attempt to offset them – defense. Instead of only contesting shots, Trinity was suddenly contesting everything Frontenac did and making the Raiders pay for lazy passes or long ones that Trinity closed on quickly.
Frontenac ended with 21 turnovers and Trinity ended with several chances to get even or take the lead. The Knights cut their deficit to two in the second quarter and again in the third, but Frontenac managed to pull away with rebounding and with well-timed jump shooting, which the Raiders didn’t heavily rely upon.
“We are what we are, we know we’re small,” Gunderson said. “I guess you could say it’s discouraging because we had a good game plan and our girls follow our game plan phenomenally. We didn’t get to the rebounds, and I felt like there were some loose balls that fell funny as the night went on, where we were just a hair behind.”
Santa Fe Trail 46, Pratt 34 – A slower tempo played into the plans of defensive-minded Pratt, which owned a 16-12 halftime lead. When Santa Fe Trail began busting Pratt’s matchup zone defense with a perimeter onslaught, the Greenbacks never got the pace back in their favor.
Santa Fe Trail made 4 of 6 three-point shots in the third quarter, turning its deficit into a 32-26 lead going into the fourth. Santa Fe Trail ran its offense through Shelby Dahl in the first half, but Dahl didn’t score in the third and the Chargers thrived, with four players scoring more than four points.