St. David’s and Trinity Academy Raleigh split their EPIC conference games Friday night with the Tigers girls and Warriors boys winning.
Trinity won the girls game 39-23 behind the play of eight-grade duo Haley Gray and Ashley Woodfin. St. David’s won the boys’ game 88-50 and showed off a deep roster that consistently turned defense into offense.
Despite having Senior Night spoiled for his three girls, St. David’s girls coach Alan Hinnant said Hattie Tharrington, Sophie Rhoads and Deborah Weiandt have added a lot to his program.
“Our mascot’s a warrior and (Hattie’s) the definition of a warrior,” Hinnant said. “She’s scrappy, she does all the small things, she plays her role.”
The Warriors boys team, ranked No. 17 in The N&O area entering this week, jumped out to a quick start. Even with the seniors playing more and stars Kris Monroe and Darion Green on the bench until the second quarter, St. David’s was deep enough to build a nine-point lead after one quarter. By half, the lead had ballooned to 27.
Though the Warriors continued to pile on the points in the third quarter, the Tigers found some offensive success and started trading baskets. Carter Whitt led the way with 15 points.
“We didn’t fight as hard in the first half, but we fought hard in the second half,” said TAR coach Bryan Burrell. “Right now the biggest thing for us is making good habits down the stretch of the season.”
On the other side, St. David’s coach Will Coley wasn’t pleased with all the baskets his team started to give up in the third quarter.
“We need to take every opportunity we can to improve,” Coley said. “We will need that for those competitive games in the conference tournament or into the state playoffs. We remind the guys: use this opportunity. Don’t play what the score is.”
The Trinity Academy Raleigh Tigers are very young, led by eighth graders Haley Gray and Ashley Woodfin. It was their play that paced the Tigers and helped them beat St. David’s.
Gray is a jack-of-all-trades player on the court. She led her team in scoring with 15 points (including a pair of 3s), brought the ball up and distributed it, rebounded and patrolled the paint on defense.
“She’s more of a combo guard playing down low in the defense and handling the ball up top,” said Trinity coach David Schenk.
It helped having classmate Woodfin out on the perimeter. She sank four 3s on the night and finished with 14 points.
When this core of players ages a few more years, Schenk said they could be special.
“Haley and Ashley both played last year as seventh graders,” Schenk said. “They could be a pretty tough team and competitive in the conference for years to come if they buy in.”
While Gray and Woodfin were playing well, St. David’s didn’t have the energy to keep up as it was slowed down by a sickness among several players.
“That is by far the worst we’ve played since I’ve been coaching basketball here,” said St. David’s coach Alan Hinnant.
The key to St. David’s success, according to coach Will Coley, is defense. The Warriors play aggressively on defense and once they create a turnover or corral a missed shot, that’s where the fun begins.
“Once we get in the open court, we tell the guys: put your foot on the gas and attack and try to make plays,” Coley said. “When you get numbers down there, it’s always great to take a shot or make a play or get a kick out for a jump shot.”
That’s what the Warriors did all night in a dominant win over Trinity Academy Raleigh. The Tigers were consistently scrambling to stop larger, more athletic Warriors players on the break or rotating to a shooter left open.
“I love when I don’t have to call plays, and they can run like it’s summer time,” Coley said.
Creating turnovers and pushing the ball in transition requires a lot of energy and depth, and that plays right into St. David’s strength. It has a deep bench full of interchangeable parts.
Baylor Wordsworth led the way with 17 points, but Kris Monroe, Harrison Benson and Darion Green all finished with double figures as well.
“They got multiple guys that can shoot, pass and dribble,” said Tigers coach Bryan Burrell. “Anytime you got a basketball team that’s got multiple guys that can shoot, pass and dribble, they’re going to be hard to stop.”