By John O’ Malley
On January 11, one of the biggest rivalries in all of high school sports faced off at Freedom Hall. During the football season, the two schools annually draw a crowd of at least 35,000 fans to their showdown. This past Friday, Saint Xavier and defending Kentucky state champs Trinity faced each other on the hardwood, drawing a near 6,000. The game was an emotional nail bitter from start to finish as the Saint Xavier Tigers edged the Trinity Shamrocks 45 – 42. The following players stood out during the course of the game:
Brock Kiesler C 6’9 Senior: Big man on the Tigers. Teammates consistently fed him the ball on the offensive end. Post moves with back to the basket can be a little more polished, however the motion is sure there. Kept a low body and determination to finish his post feeds under the rim. Saw some lift in his ability to grab clutch offensive rebounds and had critical tip-in late in the final minutes of the game. Impressive defense, closing out to his defender and denying the the ball to the post. If Trinity guards slashed to the rim, his long arms and a vertical body position allowed him to contest shots. Ended with game-tying 12 points and 8 rebounds.
Robert Shaw PG 5’10 Junior: “Pure PG”. Like any true PG, Shaw was consistently looking to distribute the ball to open players and move the offense. Got other teammates involved with his pass first-type mentality. Showed the ability to score the ball with a solid stroke. Excellent dribbler with both hands, while still maintaining control of possession during traps and tough defense. Very fast in the open court, who could swiftly run coast to coast in transition.
Alex Jones G 6’3 Senior: One of the leading scorers this season for the Tigers and a fundamentally solid player on both ends of the court. Not a real flashy player who needs to improve his ability to create shots for himself, but is gritty competitor who makes great decisions. Very good shooter with a smooth jumper and follow-through anywhere from mid-range to 3-point range. Excellent eyes and awareness on both ends of the court. Played solid-on ball defense. Great use of hands closing out and pressuring defenders. Ended the game with 12 points and 8 steals.
Justin Moody G 6’0 Senior: Skilled 3-point shooter. Nice squared shoulders, high arch release and follow-through added up to a consistent shooting motion behind the three-point line. Great movement off the ball diving and cutting to the basket. Strong upper body to set good, firm ball and back screens to free up teammates.
Darryl Hicks G 6’4 Senior: One of the top guards in Kentucky, Hicks shows the ability to score anywhere on the court. He can cut to the basket with a quick in-and-out dribble or pro-hop. He can spot up and shoot from mid-range. Against Saint Xavier, he had difficult time executing most of his shots due to great defensive pressure and high closeouts from the Tigers. His jumper has a nice arch and release, unfortunately his body wasn’t squared to follow-thru some of his jump shots this game. When he attacks the basket, he is willing to draw contact and finish. Excellent low, defensive stance on and off the ball making it difficult for defenders to get around him.
Miles Rice G 6’0 Senior: Excellent penetrator and slasher. Broad shoulders and strong upper body allowed him to absorb contact and finish around the rim. Took over final minutes of the game for Trinity scoring and energizing his teammates. Very high lift on his shot and crashes the offensive boards. Low defensive stance and ability to chase defenders and swipe in help defense. Led the Shamrocks in scoring with 10 points.
Craig Owens F 6’3 Junior: Athletic, undersized forward who likes to drive the ball inside. Able to adjust his body midair when he explodes off the court. Showed the ability to guard any position on the floor with a strong upper body. Slides feet and gets to any space quickly on zone defense.
Trey Ivory G 5’10 Junior: Competitor willing to hustle on both ends of the court. A quick point guard who can also knock down shots from behind the three-point line. Good passer, zipping them to teammates, but would’ve liked to see him reverse the ball and direct the offense. Communication and decision-making need to improve.
James Quick G 6’2 Senior: Committed to University of Louisville’s football program as a top wide receiver in his class. Very quick with great defensive awareness. Great hands consistently attempting to steal ball and trap defenders.
Raymond Spalding F/C 6’9 Sophomore: Long, lanky body. Saw only a few minutes of action this game but his presence was felt. Great defense awareness and showed ability to stay low. Long arms for shot blocking and rebounds. Unfortunately did not see any post game on offensive end. As he grows and becomes more comfortable in his center-framed body, it will be interesting to see what potential he can provide the Shamrocks.