By Marty Farmer
The Trinity basketball team's 6-0 start should come as a surprise to nobody. After all, the Blazers return seven of their nine top players from last year's terrific squad which finished 23-5 (plus add a an elite freshmen class of players). While many teams talk of pursuing a state title, it's truly a realistic aspiration for Trinity.
"It's our deepest team and one of our most experienced I've had in my seven years at Trinity," head coach Ed Stritzel said. "It we star injury-free, we should be able to contend for a state championship. We've been able, through injuries last season, to have so many young kids gain valuable experience during [the 2012-23] season. Now our program is positioned for greatness for years to come."
5-foot-8 senior Lauren Prochaska, who averaged 15 points, four assists and three steals last season, returns as the Blazers' top player. In addition to Prochaska, who has committed to De Paul, Trinity boasts a wealth of talented players, including sophomore Annie McKenna (12 ppg last season), senior Lauren Sikora, sophomore Kaitlin Aylward, junior Patricia Stritzel and junior Mary Dillon. After missing all of last season due to injury, 6-foot sophomore Amber Reese returns to offer even more depth, along with Christine Olijnyk.
McKenna is a returning all-conference player, while Stritzel (7 ppg, 3 apg last season) and Dillon are excellent shooters. Coming off a huge summer, forward/center Aylward is regarded as one of the premier players in her class. She averaged six points and five rebounds last year. Sikora provides a considerable presence in the paint for the loaded Blazers, who lost only one game during an impressive summer run of games at the De Paul Shootout, Marquette Shootout, St. Francis College Shootout and the Ball State Team Camp.
Stritzel also welcomes in a highly touted freshmen class featuring 6-foot Maria Kent, 5-foot-8 Emma Hayes and 5-foot-7 Porsha Sydnor.
The Blazers cruised to a 63-46 win over visiting Lyons Township this week. Aylward scored a team-high 14 points, hauled down ten rebounds and had five steals to trigger the nonconference victory. Although the Lions rallied late in the fourth quarter to pull within 12 points, Trinity controlled the game throughout via its defensive pressure and impressive depth.
Prior to their meeting with LTHS, the Blazers opened the season with five consecutive wins to claim the stacked Schaumburg Thanksgiving Tournament. The Blazers defeated Stevenson 56-18, Schaumburg 89-32, Wheaton-Warrenville South 56-46, Glenbrook South 62-48 and St. Charles East 69-41 en route to the championship.
Prochaska and McKenna earned all-tournament honors. Prochaska scored 28 points against St. Charles East and tallied 25 points and eight steals against WW South. McKenna netted 16 points in the Blazers' key victory over highly regarded WW South. Trinity's 8-0 run to close the third quarter against the Tigers served as the turning point of that signature matchup.
Trinity hosts Resurrection in GCAC action on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.