NORMAL?#34;Foul trouble caused Trinity’s second visit to the Class AA State Girls Basketball tournament held at Illinois State University over the weekend to be short-lived, as the Blazers fell to Belleville Althoff 60-42 in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Trinity last earned its way to the State tournament in 2003, when the Blazers were also dispatched in the quarterfinals.
Just after Trinity (23-7) got its first bucket against Althoff (33-2), a downstate school that went on to fall to Bolingbrook 45-34 in the championship game, the Blazers’ top scorer Lykendra Johnson picked up her first foul. The junior picked up her second foul midway through the opening quarter and was forced to sit on the bench for much of the first half.
With the absence of Johnson, Toni Carter stepped up, scoring the first six points for the Blazers. Monica Albano, who scored seven of her nine points in the first quarter, hit a three-pointer to put Trinity up 9-5, and the Blazers finished the opening period with a 13-8 advantage.
Trinity snagged a six-point lead in the second period before Althoff took over. Along with Johnson, March Smith picked up three fouls in the first half for the Blazers. Althoff jumped on a 12-0 run and took a six-point lead by the break.
Trinity hit a dry spell in the third quarter, scoring just five points. Althoff’s Teresa Lisch paraded to the free-throw line, hitting 19 of 21 in the game. The St. Louis University-bound senior finished with a game high 31 points.
Lisch’s performance took its toll on the Blazers, and Johnson, Smith and Kelly O’Brien all fouled out.
“Those fouls knocked us off track,” said Carter after the game. “It changed our whole momentum.”
Carter, a senior, finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
“It was exciting this being my junior year,” said Smith, who finished with eight points on the night. “We’ll be here next year. We’ll be more prepared.”
Johnson added, “It was a good year and great to be here. We did well as a team but it was hard to lose like that.”
Trinity, who upset area-rival and No. 1-ranked Fenwick in the Riverside Brookfield Sectional championship and then upended Harlan for the supersectional, has a fairly young team and the freshmen are optimistic about the future.
“It was exciting. To be only a freshman, and know that I have three more chances to get downstate,” said Albano.
“We wanted to get downstate and be successful. Getting down here is something I will cherish,” said Carter, who along with Kelly O’Brien, was on the Trinity team that made it to the Elite Eight in ’03.
“We played a very good team,” said interim head coach Mike Ciancio, who took over in midseason after the firing of Don Sansone. “We thought we could bring more pressure.”