NEFFSVILLE — Trinity entered Thursday’s state playoff game with the knowledge that Delaware-Valley Charter had a group of guards who could put it on the deck and get the ball to the basket.
The Shamrocks were likewise aware of the Warriors’ penchant for slowed-down games and their emphasis on defense, with Del-Val Charter entering the game unbeaten when allowing fewer than 60 points.
Everything about that scouting report was proven true once the two state powers took the court — albeit with one little game-deciding wrinkle from the Warriors.
Del-Val Charter (22-7) complemented its penetration game with an outstanding performance from behind the arc, as the Warriors knocked down their first six 3-pointers of the night — and hit two more in a decisive fourth quarter run — to claim a 71-60 victory over Trinity in a PIAA Class 3A boys basketball contest at Manheim Twp. High School.
The win puts the District 12 runners-up in this weekend’s quarterfinal round, against either Valley Forge or Mid-Valley at a site and time to be determined. It closes out the season for the District 3 champs, who finished with a 23-4 mark.
“They shot the ball very, very well, obviously,” Trinity coach Larry Kostelac Jr. said. “Particularly in the first half and particularly from behind the 3-point line. They were 7-for-8 from behind the arc. That was the thing that we did not see. We saw a team that went to the basket hard, and that’s what we tried to do. They made jump shots.”
Those jumpers started dropping right from the opening tip, when Del-Val’s deliberate first possession resulted in a Mahki Morris 3-pointer. An 8-0 run midway through the first quarter swung momentum to the Warriors, and they held onto it throughout the first half.
Del-Val would miss just one of its first half shots from beyond the arc, and the last of the Warriors’ seven triples was particularly damaging — Morris (game-high 30 points) knocked down a shot from the wing while being fouled, and he completed his four point play with 0.9 seconds remaining to give the Warriors a 37-26 halftime cushion.
Austin Gilbertson (team-high 27 points) and the Shamrocks took several second half cuts at the Warrior lead. They finally made headway late in the third quarter when back-to-back buckets from Sean Good and Gilbertson drew Trinity within 46-41 at the close of the third.
“They all went out there and gave it everything they had, all 32 minutes,” Kostelac said. “We really got back into that game at the end of third quarter, within five. I’ve been around this stuff for a long time, and I just had a feel that, ‘Hey, we’re back here. I think we can go get this.’”
Just as the Shamrocks had hope, though, the Warriors’ long-range shooting loomed large again. Morris canned back-to-back triples to open the quarter, and Dion Harris added an interior bucket to make it an 8-0 run and put Del Val up 54-41 with 6:39 to go.
“The funny thing is with us, is that we really don’t like holding the ball,” Del-Val coach James Lewis said. “That’s how we lost these games early in the season. When they cut the thing down to five, I took a look at a couple of the kids, and we played from there.”
The Warriors’ lead grew to as much as 14, and Trinity again slashed it, this time to 62-56 with 1:35 to go. But that was as close as it got, as Del-Val’s free-throw shooting sealed the deal in the final 90 seconds.