Lee Baldwin is not the first opposing coach to come to Trinity’s home court and leave befuddled by what had just occurred.
Trinity has not lost a home game in four seasons now, extending its home-court unbeaten streak with a season-opening 65-57 victory over Cheney on Friday night.
“They’ve pretty much destroyed us the last three years,” Baldwin said. “It’s pretty frustrating. We worked for three weeks to guard people off the dribble. We’re pretty good against everyone else in our league, but we seem to struggle against Trinity.”
It was a familiar formula for the Knights in victory. They still are a matchup nightmare for opposing teams with five players capable of knocking down a three-point shot, and are patient enough in their offense to usually sniff out a quality shot.
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There wasn’t a big scorer in the game, but Alex Carro, Jacob Johnson, Matt Jones, Mitchell List, Tyler Burns, Matt Harkness, and Drew Thornton all scored between five and 12 points for the Knights. Trinity made 21 of its 38 shots and knocked down 17 free throws.
“We took great care of our possessions,” Trinity coach Steve Miller said. “We got a little bit of a cushion, then we built on it. We got some great shots and good looks that went in.”
Cheney began with great promise, opening the game on a gorgeous in-bounds set involving a back screen and an alley-oop lob dunk thrown down by Tyler Patterson. Patterson, 6-foot-3, gave Trinity fits — dunking, hitting threes, and swatting shots until the Cardinals built a 21-11 lead in the second quarter.
But then Trinity started to enforce its will on Cheney, drawing the Cardinals out of their preferred game and into playing Trinity’s way.
“It became a dribble-fest after that and I knew we weren’t going to have a chance to win that,” Baldwin said. “They’re too good off the bounce and when we start over-pounding the ball, we’re just not that type of team.”
Trinity closed the first half on a 15-5 run to tie the score, then scored on its first four possessions to open up a 34-26 lead in the third quarter.
Cheney briefly stopped working its offense through Patterson, although he would go on to finish with a game-high 23 points and nine rebounds, and it crumbled. Missed jumpers turned into missed layups, and the Cardinals soon became frustrated with themselves for allowing Trinity to somehow build a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter.
“We always seem to play well on our home court with the crowd going,” Carro said. “We go out there and play with a lot of passion.”
Cheney rallied back and had a shot that would have cut the lead to one possession, but it didn’t fall and the inevitable finally became true.
“You just had a feeling when we got that lead that we weren’t going to lose in this gym,” Jones said. “We haven’t lost at home since (the seniors) have been here. We like to protect the house, as we call it.”
CHENEY: Heck 0, Wheelock 8, Hill 12, Schomacker 10, Patterson 23, Watson 0, Grover 0, Jones 4, Trego 0, Benward 0.
TRINITY: Carro 11, Johnson 12, Burns 5, Jones 12, List 7, Harvey 5, Kuntz 0, Harkness 5, Thornton 8.