SILVER SPRING TOWNSHIP — Word about the 6-foot-5 kid from Trinity unsurprisingly spreads throughout basketball circles.
Laron Joyner, head coach at Parkway Center City Middle College in Philadelphia, first heard about Chance Westry last year.
Saturday night’s PIAA Class 3A first round battle between Joyner’s Bulldogs and the District 3 champion Shamrocks was his first time seeing Westry in person.
The smile stretched across Joyner’s face even after an 82-43 loss at Cumberland Valley High School told all one needed to know about the coach’s reaction.
“He’s pretty good,” Joyner said. “He didn’t try to do too much. He picked his spots. We tried to wear him down, but he kept fighting and coming.”
In the end, the super soph bucketed a game-high 34 points on 13-of-21 shooting. He added seven rebounds, four assists and three steals as Trinity (22-3) eased into Wednesday’s second round against District 2 runner-up Riverside, which eliminated Central Columbia 70-57 earlier Saturday.
That game will be 6 p.m. Wednesday at Pottsville’s Martz Hall.
Joyner’s outnumbered Bulldogs — they dressed just 10 players to Trinity’s 15 — did their best to hang tough with the Shamrocks, who last year reached the PIAA title game.
It remained a single-digit contest until late in the second quarter, but Trinity’s full-fledged effort ultimately turned this into a blowout.
In addition to Westry’s monster numbers, the Shamrocks picked up 16 points, seven boards and four dimes from Marcus Beckett, seven points and seven rebounds from Aley Zangari, five points, six boards, five assists and three steals from Ben Patten, plus a crowd-pleasing five fourth-quarter points from reserve Christian Chavey.
Overall, Trinity knocked down 28 of 67 shots (with 19 assists), forced 21 turnovers and held a 47-36 advantage on the glass.
“It’s just so much fun to play with a team like this, especially when we’re playing fast and to our abilities because we have so much talent on the floor,” Patten said. “We were just moving the ball so well. I just think when we’re playing like that, there’s no way to defend us.”
Joyner agreed, lauding the Shamrocks’ supporting cast when his District 12 No. 6 seed implemented strategies against Westry like the box-and-one defense or face-guarding.
Trinity head coach Larry Kostelac Jr. admitted his boys showed a little rust, which might explain the 11-for-31 shooting in the first half. But he was overall pleased, especially with the sharing of the ball on offense and the defense limiting a smallish lineup from finding any kind of groove from the arc.
The Bulldogs (14-7) finished just 1-for-16 from deep, with Nate Rosario (13 points) hitting the lone triple while usual leading scorer Paul Green (12 points) misfired on all of his attempts.
Leading just 24-17 with three minutes left in the half, the Shamrocks embarked on the first of two explosions to put this one away. Beckett scored eight straight points — including a pair of three-point plays — in an 11-0 spurt near the end of the half.
Then Westry and Zangari shared 11 points during a 12-0 run early in the third, with a Beckett-to-Zangari-to-Westry alley-oop jam capping the rally and sending the sweatpants-wearing Trinity student section into a sauna-type boil.
“Overall, it was a great first game,” Kostelac said. “We’ve had some trap games this first [round of states] after district play, and these teams have abilities, no doubt about it.”
Meanwhile, Patten raved about the result from rival Camp Hill, which stunned Philadelphia’s Bishop McDevitt earlier in the day. Trinity swept Camp Hill in the regular season, then needed a rally to beat the Lions in the District 3 championship game nearly two weeks ago. In theory, the division playmates could meet a fourth time in the PIAA semifinals, though each team would have to win twice more to set that up.
“I was psyched,” Patten said. “I’m friends with all of them. I texted them right away after I heard the news. I was like, ‘Great job, keep playing hard, maybe we’ll see you again.’”
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