December — 5, Cheney; 11, at Garden City; 12, vs. Holcomb at Garden City; 13, vs. Scott City at Garden City; 16, at Belle Plaine; 19, at Douglass.
January — 6, at Bluestem; 9, at Independent; 13, Garden Plain, 16, at Chaparral; 22-24, El Dorado tournament (B); 26-31, Berean Academy tournament (G).
February — 3, Belle Plaine; 6, Douglass; 10, at Medicine Lodge; 13, at Cheney; 17, at Conway Springs, 20, Independent, 24, Bluestem.
Coach: Steve Miller, sixth season, 72-37
Last season: 15-7
Alex Carro, 6-0, sr., G
Matt Jones, 6-2, sr., F
Tyler Burns, 6-0, sr., G
Jacob Johnson, 5-10, sr., G
Austin Shanks, 6-0, sr., F
Trinity Academy’s lack of height isn’t something Miller worries about.
“We don’t have much size, and it doesn’t really bother me,” he said. “I like the guys’ quickness and how hard they play. They just never back down. They don’t care how big they are, we’ll just do our best.”
The Knights’ speed starts with Burns, a standout on the football field and the track, but Carro, Johnson, Shanks, Jones and junior Mitchell List have quickness.
Trinity can negate its lack of height with its pressure defense, as well as its help-side defense — as long as there is ample communication.
“We need to rely on the team. We preach it from Day 1,” Miller said. “All five on the court, all 12 varsity guys, have to be on the same page.”
Miller knows he can count on his players for hustle and rebounding.
“I talk about being the best team from free-throw line to free-throw line,” Miller said. “Be the guy who sprints the floor.”
Trinity will run primarily a five-out offense, utilizing backdoor cuts and the Knights’ ability to score from the perimeter.
The goal is to return to the postseason after a five-season drought. Trinity, which plays in Class 4A-Division II, last made the state tournament in 2008-09 when it was 22-2. The Knights won the 3A title in 2007 with a 24-2 record.
“We’re striving to get back, which is why we want to play the good teams, and not only the good teams in the (Central Plains League),” Miller said. “We’re going out to Garden City and playing Scott City, Holcomb and Garden City (in an early-season tournament). We play in the El Dorado tournament, which prepares us for the postseason.”
Coach: Brett Gunderson, fifth season, 47-39
Last season: 14-9
Shiloh Miller, 5-4, sr., G
Caroline Zielke, 5-7, sr., F
Whitney Guetersloh, 5-4, sr., G
Kaleigh Schrag, 5-4, jr., G
Micala Hollinger, 5-8, jr., F
It took 16 seasons for the Trinity Academy girls to advance to the state tournament, but why not shoot for two straight berths?
The berth in the Class 4A-Division II tournament “really boosts our program,” Gunderson said. “Each year we play young kids, and a lot of kids, going nine, 10 deep.
“Not only are we bringing back experience, but experience that has gone further than any (team) in the history of the school. It will help them from the mental standpoint to go out and push through and achieve more attainable goals.”
Miller, who has started all but one game in the past three seasons, is one of three senior leaders that includes Zielke and Guetersloh. All three are guards, but each brings a little something different.
Miller is always consistent. Schrag is a bit more flashy and athletic, and despite her lack of height, she usually ranks as one of the team’s best rebounders. Then there’s Guetersloh, who is the Knights’ best mid-range shooter, Gunderson said.
With depth at guard, Gunderson may run a four-out, one-in offense as he has in the past.
“We’re entering the season without a post player,” Gunderson said. “We’ve always had a size disadvantage, but this year will be the biggest size disadvantage we’ve had.
“On the flip side, this will be the fastest team that we’ve had. Bringing that with our defense, that will allow us to fully do what we want to do.”
Zielke and Hollinger are forwards, and Hollinger will likely play center.
“That’s tough because she has outside range and can play for me outside,” Gunderson said. “It’s not really a sacrifice, but she’ll go inside to be that kid.
“Caroline, she’s our glue. She’ll set the screen. They all dive for loose balls, but she’ll be the first one to dive for those loose balls.”
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PREVIEWS ON VARSITYKANSAS.COM
Nov. 17: Derby, Southeast
Nov. 18: Heights, Trinity Academy
Nov. 19: Andale, East
Nov. 20: Andover Central, North
Nov. 21: Carroll, Maize
Nov. 22: Andover, West
Nov. 23: Collegiate, Northwest
Nov. 24: Circle, Kapaun
Nov. 25: Independent, Wichita South
Nov. 26: Goddard, Maize South
Nov. 27: Clearwater, Garden Plain
Nov. 28: El Dorado, Mulvane
Nov. 29: Newton, Valley Center, other teams in the AV-CTL, CPL, CKL and area smaller schools
Nov. 30: Eisenhower, Rose Hill
Dec. 1: Augusta, Campus
Dec. 2: Cheney, Conway Springs