Trinity head coach Don Sansone was so unimpressed with the play of his five starters in the beginning of an important Girls Catholic Athletic Conference game against Mother McAuley on Thursday night in River Forest, he called a timeout and replaced them with five players off the bench.

The move ignited the Blazers (14-8, 4-2), who trailed 8-0 to start the game but finished with a 58-47 victory. Eager reserves, such as Kelly O’Brien, Gina Consiglio, and Kasey Twine, took charge and brought Trinity to within one at 10-9 to close out the first quarter. O’Brien ended the night with a team-high 12 points to go along with her seven rebounds. Consiglio, who nailed a momentum-building 3-pointer in the first quarter, finished with seven points. Twine chipped in six points, including connecting on 4-of-4 free throws in the final period. Nine players scored for Trinity in the game. 

“The five starters just had a lack of focus to start the game,” said first-year head coach Don Sansone. “I don’t know if they were looking ahead to another game or what, but something had to be done to get them going. Luckily, we have some depth to this team, and it showed up.

“My philosophy has been if you don’t show up to play every game, then you will be replaced. We’ve got the talent to do that on this team.”

Sansone said he was bewildered that his starting five hadn’t showed much enthusiasm to start the game, but the Blazers have been considered a come-from-behind team all year.

“This team has a never quit attitude about it. They get behind in a game but they don’t give up,” said Sansone. “It’s not just in the starters, that attitude; it’s in the bench players as well.”

The Blazers, who have endured some tough injuries that resulted in close losses to top-ranked teams, most notably Fenwick, are still one player short this season. Starting center Toni Carter has been out much of the year with what has recently been diagnosed as a bulging disc. Carter, who started for the Blazers last year, played through the pain in only a handful of games earlier in the season.

“Toni is a tough kid. Now that we know exactly what has been ailing her we want her to get back to 100-percent,” said Sansone.

Carter was to be reevaluated at the end of this week, but Sansone was hopeful she would be back for the GCAC tournament next week. In the meantime, sophomore Lykendra Johnson has been carrying the workload underneath. Johnson is averaging nine rebounds per game.

“Lykendra has been developing into a great physical player,” said Sansone. “She’s had a lot of pressure on her this season, but she’s managed to step up.”

Overall, Sansone said, his first year as head coach at Trinity has gone pretty well.

“We’ve had some ups and downs, but that’s expected when a new system is installed. It took a little longer than I expected, but now we’re on the right track.” 

The Blazers travel to Regina on Thursday for their final conference game. On Friday (7:30 p.m.), they host 16th-ranked Thornwood, whose Danae Russell had 19 points, six steals, and five assists in a win over Thornwood last week.

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...