Trinity stays hot with upset win over No. 4 Highlands on the road

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Wednesday, March 3, 2021 | 8:40 PM


Playing in the same section as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the WPIAL Class 5A tournament can prepare any team for a postseason run. On four occasions this season, Trinity tested itself against the best its classification had to offer.

So when playoff time came and the Hillers were given the No. 13 seed, the they felt they needed to prove themselves all over again.

“To be honest, they were mad that they were the 13 seed,” Trinity coach Tim Tessmer said. “They thought they were way better than a 13 seed, and the two teams in our section (Chartiers Valley and New Castle) are really good and we were third place, so we felt like we should’ve gotten a little more love.”

On Wednesday night, four players combined for 14 3-pointers, and the Hillers (10-8) upset No. 4 Highlands (13-6), 76-56, on the road to move onto the quarterfinals of the WPIAL Class 5A tournament for the first time in three seasons.

“We’re all just coming together at once, and we were all clicking tonight,” Trinity’s Mike Dunn said. “It’s March, and you have to give it your all. I think we did that tonight, and we came out victorious.”

The Hillers will move on to play No. 5 Mars (15-3) on Saturday.

For the second straight game, Dunn lit up the scoreboard, scoring a game-high 31-points, 18 in the second half.

He tallied 37 points in Trinity’s preliminary-round victory over No. 20 Kiski Area on Saturday. Although Dunn scored 13 in the first half, junior guard Kyle Fetcho, who finished with 22 points, got hot from deep and hit five 3-pointers, including four in the second quarter to pace, the Hillers early.

“When we’re good, that’s what we do,” Tessmer said. “I don’t know if it’s to that level, with that many different guys, but we’re shooting team. We don’t have a lot of size, so we kind of have to live that way. But when we’re making shots we’re hard to guard.”

After jumping out to a 12-5 lead in the first quarter the Hillers led wire-to-wire. Behind their barrage of 3-pointers, they got comfortable, which allowed them to answer every time that Highlands tried to make a run.

“I don’t think we communicated well enough defensively, and that led to open shots and them getting comfortable in our gym,” Highlands coach Tyler Stoczynski said. “We are usually better at not letting that happen, but it happened tonight.”

Jimmy Kunst led the Golden Rams with 15 points, and Antoine McDaniel added 11 but Highlands never seemed to be able to find a rhythm offensively.

A six-point first-quarter lead turned in 14 heading into the half. After cutting the lead to 11 at the end of the third quarter, the Golden Rams got as close as eight points in the fourth quarter. But the Hillers sealed the victory with a late 10-0 run.

“Hopefully, our guys learn from this, and we can continue to build on our program,” Stoczynski said.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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