LOWER ALLEN TWP. — Trinity is nearly halfway through the division schedule, and one thing has become abundantly clear: There are not many teams that can go as deep and play as well as Kristi Britten’s Shamrocks.
Trinity dismantled visiting Middletown 74-36 on Friday night at Trinity High School. It was a game that wasn’t very competitive after the first few minutes, despite the Blue Raiders entering the game just one loss behind the Shamrocks in the Mid-Penn Capital.
But with a roster overflowing with talent — Division I prospect Kassidy Ingram came off the bench on this particular night as Trinity (8-1, 4-1) tried to control the game with impressive guard play — there was just nothing Middletown (4-6, 3-2) could do.
Forward Sunshine McCrae, another D-I recruit, owned the gym with 15 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks.
She said after the game she felt frustrated early, although it didn’t seem to show from the sidelines. She still finished 6-of-10 from the field.
“I was trying to get my head back in the game,” McCrae said, hypothesizing that perhaps the game’s early start impacted her rhythm. “Once I started scoring I think I got out of it.”
Britten said after the game she has spent far more time this season working with the team on everything but scheme and plays, especially considering the roster is a mix of highly touted freshmen guards Ava Stevenson and Jaylin Moore, junior forward transfers McCrae (East Pennsboro) and Ingram (Carlisle) and several leftovers from last year’s four-win team.
“We have spent many, many hours, many phone calls, many emails, many meetings working on everything but the Xs and Os,” Britten said. “In a good way. I think that it takes a lot of work for new kids, young kids, old kids that have been here, for all of that to mesh and work together as a team.”
Part of that has been working with the players to adjust to a rotation within the starting lineup. Britten is confident she has more than five starters on the roster and is trying to “deemphasize that title of a starter.”
“[Explaining to them that] it’s not a punishment, or it’s not that you did something wrong, or it’s not that you’re less of a player or person — it’s just a rotation that we’re going through,” she said.
She’s selling it as a way for her players to learn how to adjust to adversity, including if they play in college down the line and come off the bench, to teach life lessons, and to prepare the squad for injuries to anyone at any time.
“It can be frustrating at some times, but I trust her as a coach,” McCrae said, adding that the players have bounded well since summer open gyms and that she’s accepting Britten’s decisions because it’s to help the team win.
If it works, the Shamrocks will only be more dangerous come the postseason. And this is a squad that already looks like a legitimate threat to make a deep District 3 and PIAA run in Class 3A.
Ingram leads the team in scoring, averaging 13.4 points per game, with McCrae right behind at 12.1. The Shamrocks have some snipers in Stevenson (10.7 ppg, 13 made 3-pointers) and sophomore Alana Boyer (8.8 ppg, 12 made 3s). There’s also senior Aidan Finegan (7.2 ppg), Moore (5.7) and reserve Katie Sajer (3.5).
The guards showed plus ball-handling Friday in a game that was moved up to 6 p.m. with no JV game — Trinity committed 15 turnovers, seven in the first half when the game was at its most competitive — and the forwards dominated on the glass, winning the rebound battle 47-34. Trinity shot 30-of-60 from the field, and had double-digit assists.
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The Shamrocks moved the ball well, got out in transition whenever they pleased and showed a stifling press defense at times.
“You don’t even know that they’ve subbed somebody in,” Middletown coach Ronald Stetler Jr. said. “They all have the same game — they can shoot, they’re quick, they’re fast, they hustle. If we’re not on the top of our game, it’s tough to stay with them.”
Very quickly, the Shamrocks are the hunted. Having already beaten PIAA Class 2A contender Camp Hill in the first game of the bi-annual rivalry, the Capital is theirs to lose. Britten, however, would prefer to lie low.
“No, I like to fly under the radar,” she said. “I don’t think anybody likes a target on their back. I’d match rather do our thing and see where it takes us.”
- McCrae nearly had her double-double by halftime, with 10 points and nine boards. She showcased good footwork and nice touch on her floaters and jumpers.
“She’s really taken huge strides in being a leader, being an unselfish player,” Britten said. “There’s many times where we get the ball in and she has the opportunity, but she kicks it out, which is really nice to have.
“And she’s a monster on the boards, and I love that.”
- Trinity went on multiple runs during the game, including an 11-3 run to close the first quarter, which continued right into a 19-2 second-quarter run and a 7-0 run in the third.
- During that second quarter run, McCrae was fouled and made her first free throw. Trinity gathered the rebound after the miss, and McCrae was again fouled. She again made just the first attempt and the Shamrocks rebounded again, eventually converting the lengthy possession into a Boyer trey.
- Ingram finished with 14 points and four rebounds. She and McCrae each had two blocks. Stevenson went for 13 and Boyer for 11. Finegan added eight points and seven rebounds.
- What doomed the Blue Raiders was a 0-for-6 stretch from the free-throw line early in the second quarter. During that stretch, Trinity built its lead from 19-11 to 26-11 and never looked back. The rough patch at the line was demoralizing.
“When we missed those [six] foul shots, I think things started falling apart,” Stetler said.