St. Anne’s-Belfield threw the kitchen sink at Trinity Episcopal for the better part of three quarters on Tuesday night. That’s what it takes to beat the defending Prep League and VISAA Division 1 champions, especially when they’ve got their big three players all in sync. The Saints came out early and hung in for a while, but at the end of the night there was no denying the Titans trio of Armando Bacot, Jason Wade and Henry Coleman. It was a trio playing off each other with each member taking control of the game at points. It was another big night for that big three and it paved the way to an 80-69 victory on the road in Charlottesville.
“They had a lot of guys that can score from outside and off the dribble so we knew that this was probably going to be a high scoring game,” said Trinity coach Richard Hamlin. “There were some tricky matchups with our bigs on their guards and they’ve got mostly guards and then on the flip side they had to find a way to deal with our size which we knew would be hard inside. That’s basically how it played out.”
The Saints came out of the gate looking to take advantage of their depth with outside shooters and it worked with Jordan Pennix knocking down a pair of three’s to go along with a Myles Ward layup to make it 8-2 in the first few minutes of play. After Nick Reeves and Dalton Taylor got warm too, St. Anne’s was up 15-8.
“The coaching staff, we all believe and it’s just getting the guys to see it the same way that hey, we can hang with these guys,” said Saints coach Brian Kent. “We got up big and just getting all the guys to believe that we can keep that going is what’s going to be big for us going forward.”
But Trinity would survive the early energy STAB got from it’s starting five and its crowd as while St. Anne’s was able to keep the Titans lauded center in Bacot relatively quiet with a healthy double team, Coleman and Wade were able to pour in 14 points combined in the first frame. With a 10-2 run to close the first, Trinity took an 18-17 lead into the second.
“It’s just about energy,” Coleman said. “Coach had us prepared but we had to bring the energy and will to win. We didn’t want to lose but it’s a road game so you know it’s going to be hard, that there’s going to be adversity. But just sitting down, calming ourselves down and then playing our game, getting in transition, it’s just about stop scores and rebounds.”
STAB kept pace for the bulk of the second quarter, taking the lead early at 20-18 with Reeves attacking inside only to have Bacot and Coleman quickly and make it 29-24 in Trinity’s favor. St. Anne’s got a three from Nic Kent and basket from Taylor to lock things up at 31-31. However a quick pair of baskets from, Barcot and Wade gave the Titans what wound up being a permanent lead at 35-31 going into the break.
The third and fourth quarters saw Trinity’s inside work at the basket take its toll. The Titans got another combined 14 points from Wade and Jones in the third quarter, with almost every basket coming on a dunk or layup. With a 6-0 start to the third it was 41-31. Kent and Ward were able to trim the deficit down to 52-45 late in the third but that would wind up being as close to the lead as Trinity would allow.
“I thought we played really well but we just hung our heads a couple of times and you can’t do that against a team like this,” Kent said. “Our guys fought, played hard and made adjustments but against that team you have to everything right. You’ve got to have everything going for you and we didn’t quite have that.”
The Titans opened up the fourth with Barcot getting going and a 9-2 run to make things 65-50 and force a STAB timeout. While the Saints were able to get to within eight points of the lead with just over a minute to go, there would be no fouling a way back into this contest and the visiting defending state champs walked out with an 80-69 win without much fuss late.
“We didn’t turn the ball over like we did in the first half,” Hamlin said. “We got a couple steals and starting hitting three and four shots in a row and were able to create that separation in the second half.”
On the night, Coleman, Wade and Barcot combined for 69 points for the Titans. Coleman finished with a game high 26 points. Jones threw in 25 points. Barcot had 18.
For the Saints, Pennix’s four three pointers led to a team best 20 points. Taylor chipped in 14 points. Ward finished with 12 points. Kent contributed 11 points. Reese had nine points. That starting five combined for all but three points for the Saints.
STAB (6-4) will host Collegiate on Saturday afternoon while Trinity (11-2) will play at home on Friday night against St. Christopher’s.