HERSHEY — A year ago, the Trinity Shamrocks were a collection of talent.
A mix of two junior forwards bound for Division I basketball and youthful guards, plus role players filling in the remaining spots, the girls basketball team grinded its way to a District 3 Class 3A championship.
There were bumps in the road as a team that was essentially assembled from scratch in an offseason worked out its quirks, but the talent eventually won out on the big stage.
Consider those quirks worked out.
The No. 2 Shamrocks looked like a veteran bunch that’s played for two years together, rolling to a 44-33 win over longtime program rival No. 1 Delone Catholic at Giant Center.
Wednesday night’s win included a tighter-than-needed second half, but by and large Trinity looked calm, composed and prepared for the stage.
“A year of maturity has treated us really well,” said head coach Kristi Britten, who is a win away from 200 in her 12-year career with her alma mater.
The title is Trinity’s 15th all-time, tying Lancaster Catholic for second among District 3 girls basketball teams. Lebanon Catholic holds the lead with 20.
What mattered to them, though, was the repeat, with largely the same group of players as 2018.
“Oh my goodness, this one takes the cake,” said senior forward Kassidy Ingram, who had a game-high 12 points to go along with seven rebounds and two assists. “It’s even better than last year.”
“I think it feels amazing, but it’s an indescribable feeling,” classmate Sunshine McCrae said after a 10-point, 10-rebound night. “When you’re on the court and you’ve [put in the work] … to actually win it and get the gold is just an amazing feeling.”
Trinity (24-2) got contributions up and down the lineup.
While Ingram and McCrae led in scoring and on the glass, Ava Stevenson chipped in seven points, four rebounds, an assist and a steal. Jaylin Moore, despite scoring just one point, showed impressive skills breaking Delone’s press and making plays all over. She had three rebounds, four assists and a steal. Braylee Fetterolf had a first-quarter 3 as the Shamrocks built an early lead. And reserve forward Lauren Trumpy contributed six points, seven rebounds and an assist.
“[Trumpy] provides us a lot of mismatch opportunities as well as Stevenson as a 6-foot guard that can play inside — she provides us with a lot of matchup nightmares for a lot of teams,” Britten said.
“I think that [Ingram and MCrae] both have made tremendous strides in their — I guess their maturity.”
But what won this one was Trinity’s defense and the Squirettes’ poor shooting.
DC (21-4) shot just 12-of-45 from the field and 6-of-12 from the foul line. Gianna Hoddinott led the team with 10 points off the bench, and Riley Vingsen was good for nine points. But that was about it.
“Obviously we didn’t shoot the ball well. Our passing could’ve been better, our defensive rebounding could’ve been better and our hands could’ve been better,” Delone’s 20th-year head coach Gerry Eckenrode said. “But they’re good. You can’t make any mistakes against them, and we made too many to start [the game].”
Some of that was just poor shooting luck. But the Shamrocks’ D certainly had a hand in that.
The constant rotation of Ingram, McCrae and Trumpy in the post presented problems for DC’s center Bradi Zumbrum. She had just four points and four rebounds after averaging 11.6 points a game coming in.
And then there’s what Brooke Lawyer did … or didn’t do.
The sharpshooter with 49 3-pointers and 12.2 points per game was held scoreless, 0-for-8 from the field. She had just three shot attempts in the second half as Trinity effectively wiped her out.
“That’s what we really focused on throughout the season is improving our defense every practice, and I think it really showed,” McCrae said, surprised to learn outside the team locker room Lawyer didn’t score.
“Honestly not even just improving for her, we’ve been working on our defense all season,” said Ingram, equally surprised. “And we’ve slowly and steadily improved on that. And so because of that, it was rewarded, and it showed out there on the court.”
Trinity methodically built up a lead in the first quarter against the Squirettes’ zone. Britten said after the game she was surprised to see DC go zone after not seeing it on film, but she was pleased the team adjusted quickly.
The Shamrocks stayed patient offensively, sometimes working lengthy possessions. The result was a 13-6 lead after eight minutes while shooting 6-of-16. They did it with six points up close from Ingram.
“I just felt like we had the mindset to go out there and from the jump just jump on ‘em and get our lead up,” Moore said.
Trinity upped the lead to 28-13 at halftime before the Shamrocks were beset by their own shooting woes in the second half, going just 4-of-14 in the final 16 minutes. But the defense did enough to keep DC from getting within two possessions.
Trinity now awaits the District 12 sixth seed in the PIAA Class 3A tournament, which begins March 6 at a site and time to be determined. The Shamrocks were knocked out in the first round a year ago.
Notes: Trinity won on the glass 38-25, had 10 assists and turned the ball over 16 times, but just five of those turnovers were in the first half. … Delone committed 13 turnovers, including approximately five from Zumbrum.