BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The Trinity Christian Academy boys basketball team has had a great season completely under the radar.
The Deltona team has won district titles back to back seasons. The Eagles (21-8) are headed to the Class 3A Final Four after beating Gainesville St. Francis 85-76 on Tuesday in the regional final.
“Last season we won the district tournament and lost in the first round. We didn’t have the experience. This year we had a really good summer especially during camps. We played a tough schedule with big schools like Deltona, Evans, Palm Coast, Seminole, Lake Mary and DeLand,’’ said Head Coach John Torre.
“I think those games gave us big game experience. We have 14 kids that have bought into what we’re doing from day one, even when the football players got back. We have seven seniors and several underclassmen that have accepted their roles. We have good team chemistry.’’
Hialeah team next
Trinity plays Champagnat Catholic School in Hialeah in the semifinals at the Lakeland Civic Center on Feb. 28. The winner advances to the championship game on March 2.
Torre said, “We have to keep the momentum. We have the chemistry and discipline to get it done, but we have to go and play.”
Traditionally known as a baseball school with some football success, the Eagles basketball program is thriving.
“We have been a dominant baseball school with eight Final Four appearances and a few titles. It’s great to hear about us in basketball now, Torre noted.
“We have finally got the right mix of players, coaching staff and kids buying into the mentality. It’s nice that we’ve been under the radar and haven’t had the pressure on us. We don’t mind. I think it has allowed us to just go play basketball.
Led by Archibald
Trinity is led by do-all athlete senior guard Amorie Archibald.
Archibald is also the school’s football star and has accepted a scholarship offer to play basketball at Louisiana Tech next season.
“Amorie is that once-in-a-while player. He has stuck around and worked hard. Players like playing with him. He has earned a D-1 (Division 1) scholarship,” Torre remarked.
Sophomore guard/forward Marlon Bradley, senior guard Kendall Murthie and junior guard Gabriel Mercedes also have been big for Trinity
“Marlon started as a freshman last year but didn’t know his role. This year he has come along. He is a defensive force. His confidence and offense is improving. He is really humble. Kendall transferred from Deltona where he played behind the Hinson brothers on a Final Four team. His big school experience has really helped us. Gabriel has been in and out of the starting lineup. He is a three-point specialist who has really given us a lift,” Torre explained.
Others step up
Trinity got off to a 9-1 start to begin the season.
The team lost Archibald for a four-game stretch due to an injury and lost three games. The Eagles rebounded winning eight out of 10 games after Archibald’s return.
“It was a tough time. Any time that Amorie comes out of the lineup its tough. The other players had to go from supporting roles to starring roles. Since Amorie came back, he is not always scoring 30 points; he sometimes scores 17 points,’’ Torre stated.
“It’s been games with Marlon scoring 22 or 28 points and Gabriel hitting big threes. Kendall has also stepped up. Amorie’s injury might have been a been a blessing in disguise. Our schedule was tough and it has been tough, sometimes keeping the kids motivated,” the coach added.