The Trinity High School boys’ basketball team opened their season by dropping a heartbreaker to Pikeville, Ky., but have since been on quite the roll, winning five straight games heading into the home opener Tuesday night against Mt. Lebanon.
Part of the reason the Hillers have been so hot has been the play of guard Christian Koroly, who was averaging 22.8 points per game in the Hillers’ past four games, which included a 3-0 trip in Orlando, Fla., in the KSA Classic Tournament.
Unfortunately for Mt. Lebanon, Koroly and the Hillers picked right up where they left off in Florida a Trinity was hot from the floor and led almost wire-to-wire, cruising to an impressive 75-54 Section 4-AAAA victory – the first win in Quad-A for the Hillers in seven years as they spent the past six seasons in Triple-A.
“It was a great team performance,” said Trinity’s first-year head coach Stan Noszka. “I thought we played solid defense and Christian has been shooting tremendous. We beat some good teams in Orlando and we are pretty hot right now. It was good to finally get that first home game in and have a good performance like this.”
The story early was Koroly, who scored 19 of his game-high 27 points in the first half, knocking down five shots from three-point range. His 19 first-half points were more than the entire Blue Devils team scored until the final seconds of the half.
“I was feeling it tonight, for sure,” said Koroly. “My teammates did a great job getting me some open looks and I was in a good rhythm. The Florida trip was such a great bonding thing for us. We have great chemistry right now and are playing well as a team.”
While Koroly was solid again offensively, it was the Trinity defense that set the tone early in the game.
Mt. Lebanon (1-1, 2-3) won the opening tip, but couldn’t get a shot off for close to a minute. After that, the Hillers controlled the glass and forced the Blue Devils into an alarming number of turnovers. The Blue Devils had a bit of success getting the ball inside to Matt Hoffman, who finished with 12 points, but the Hillers locked up the perimeter for the first three quarters.
“We want to be a great defensive team,” added Koroly. “We have to be to win games in this section. Every practice we have to play 45 seconds of perfect defense and we don’t quit unless we do it perfectly and it is nice to see that translate into the game.”
Trinity (1-0, 6-1) led 31-20 at the half, then exploded offensively in the second half as everyone got more involved in the offense. Four Trinity starters scored in double figures as Berton Miller (21), Jared Deep (14) and Corey Hunsberger (10) each had big games.
But it was Miller’s play at both ends of the floor that really sparked the Hillers.
Without starter Avery King, who is out with a sprained ankle suffered in Orlando, Miller picked up the slack by having had a big night rebounding and on the defensive end of the floor, often coming up with big rebounds and steals.
A player who does all the little things to make a team better, Miller came up big on the offensive end as well.
“A lot of attention gets paid to Christian and Cory, and I have to step up sometimes and score,” said Miller. “I thought we played good team defense, which got us some easy baskets, and my teammates got me the ball cutting to the basket. But I will do whatever the team needs, if that means rebounding more with Avery out, that is what I have to do.”
Miller’s play made Noszka happy.
“He works very hard and it is nice to see him get rewarded with a big game,” said Noszka. “The biggest thing is that he is playing with confidence. He has improved a ton and he just looks like a different player than a couple a seasons ago. He’s even made great strides from last year.”
The Hillers host Peters Township Friday night and Noszka hopes the hot streak will continue.
“We just have to keep getting better defensively,” he said. “We have an experienced team, and they are doing everything we tell them. We have to play great team defense to win in this section. If we do, we can let the guys go a little bit offensively because we have a bunch of guys who can create. It all starts with defense though, and we have to continue to get better.”