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UPDATE: Top-ranked Trinity is first up for Bullitt East

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2012 PNC/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen Tournament

By Mike Farner

 UPDATE: The Trinity Shamrocks showed why they are ranked number one in the state, winning 52-32 over Bullitt East in the first round of the 2012 Kentucky Boys' Sweet Sixteen Tournament.

The Shamrocks held Bullitt East junior and University of Kentucky commit Derek Willis to 8 points. Rusty Troutman led the CHargers by scoring 12.

Check Monday's edition of The Pioneer News and www.pioneernews.net for a full story.

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MOUNT WASHINGTON - The Bullitt East Chargers have cleared a lot of hurdles this season, but the biggest hurdle of all may come tonight when the red and gold collide with top-ranked Trinity in the first round of the PNC Boys’ Sweet Sixteen Tournament at 6:30 p.m. in Rupp Arena.

The Shamrocks (31-3) have been the number one team in the state for most of the season and have been the no-doubt number one team since winning the Louisville Invitational Tournament. The only loss Trinity has had against a Kentucky team came on Jan. 21 in the Joe B. Hall Classic at Montgomery County by a 78-77 count to Madison Central (a team that did not advance to the state tournament). Just two hours earlier, Bullitt East had beaten Rowan County (which is in this week’s state tournament) 61-59 in the same event.

The other two Trinity losses were suffered in a holiday tournament in Florida to teams from New York and California.

Of course, Bullitt East is 27-4 with only three of the losses coming to Kentucky teams.

Trinity will be trying to advance to win a state championship on St. Patrick’s Day.

While Bullitt East and Trinity have never played each other over the past 30 years, they did meet in a scrimmage game at Sheldon Clark back at the end of November. Bullitt East rallied to win that event, but Trinity was without its football players.

In addition, Bullitt East had 6-6 junior Elliot Young for that game. He has not played since the Christmas break due to an injured back and he will not play this week.

“I have not seen Trinity play since we played them in the last scrimmage of the pre-season,” Bullitt East head coach Troy Barr said last Friday after his team practiced. “We have some film on them and we’ll start preparing for them on Saturday.”

A regular season meeting between the two powerhouses was on the drawing board last summer. The teams were going to be part of a showcase event at either Freedom Hall or the KFC Yum Center (before the NCAA said high school games put on by non-school sponsors could not be played in arenas where major college teams play), but that game morphed into another event that was eventually canceled.

Unlike last season, where the Chargers had an easier draw, this will be a huge mountain for Barr’s team to climb.

“We’re the underdog,” the Bullitt East coach said. “They are the favorite to win the state championship. They deserve that. We’ll have to play a perfect game to beat them.”

Trinity is not quite as tall as Bullitt East, but they are a little quicker. They are also older as they will start three seniors compared to the one that Bullitt East will start (Kory Caufield).

“Size wise they are not a whole lot different than us,” Barr said. “Match-ups won’t be a problem. The problem is in their athletes and skill.”

The key player that Bullitt East did not see in the first meeting was junior James Quick. While a strong basketball player, he is a high Division I football player and is ranked among the top-20 players in the country in next year’s football recruiting class. He already has an offer from national champion Alabama as well as Louisville and Kentucky.

“Quick is their most improved player and we had Elliott,” Barr said of the beginning and end of the season for both teams. “He’s the best athlete in the state and Elliott was very important to what we were doing.”

Trinity has major talent throughout their starting line-up. Leading the way is 6-5 senior Nathan Dieudonne who has already signed with Boston University as well as 6-2 senior Charles Foster who will be playing at Morehead State next season. Another starter, Troy Saxton, has signed with Huntsville-Alabama.

The fifth starter is 6-4 junior Darryl Hicks. He played against Bullitt East two years ago in Mount Washington when the Chargers beat Shelby County in a game that pretty much propelled the red and gold to the upper echelon of programs in the state where they have been now for three years. Hicks sat out last season after transferring to Trinity.

This will be only the second trip ever to the state tournament for the Shamrocks who also made the trip to Rupp Arena in 2004 with head coach Mike Szabo who has a 229-102 record in 11 seasons at the school.

“Our players have to continue to do the things that got us here if we want to be successful in Lexington,” Szabo said. “We’ve been consistent in getting it done on the defensive end all year and doing a great job of playing as a team on the offensive end. They share the ball, make the extra pass and believe in each other. They play with incredible heart and pride.”

The Bullitt East players haven’t forgotten that game with Trinity back in November.

Charger junior Rusty Troutman recalls being a little under the weather that day, but that his team played well.

“They are athletic and run a lot,” Troutman said last week. “We handled it pretty well. We won, but it was just a scrimmage.”

“They are a very good team,” junior point guard Trey Rakes said. “They are very athletic and well coached. They get after it up and down the floor. They have solid starters.

“I have watched them a few times and they have gotten a lot better,” Rakes added. “They deserve the number seed, but we’ll be ready for them.”

Barr was asked if it would be an advantage to have a lot of time to prepare for Trinity or would it be better to play them in a short turnaround as teams will have to do later in the tournament.

“I don’t know,” the Bullitt East head coach said. “There are a lot of different ways to think about it.

“Still, you are in the Sweet Sixteen and you are going to play a good team every time you line up,” Barr added. “We are playing in the state championships and that is what we have worked for. We have our opportunity and that is all we’re concerned about.”