Trimble Claims District Title

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Senior guard Austin Downs created an opportunity for redemption as the time winded down in the first half.

Downs missed a 3-pointer with five seconds left, but intercepted the Paint Valley outlet pass.

“I was just kinda reading his eyes and tried to bait him to throw it,” he said. “He threw it exactly where I wanted him to.”

Downs took another 3 as time expired as he was fouled. The shot fell, and he made the free throw to put his team up by five heading into the locker room.

Trimble created second chances and used their balanced offense to defeat Paint Valley 66-55, and win their first Division IV District Title since 2000 and continue their undefeated season.

Downs was one of four Tomcats to score in the double digits. When the Bearcats began to cut the lead early in the second half with baskets from behind the arc, the Tomcats took a break from their tough post style of play. Downs and Justice Jenkins heated up from behind the arc as well and combined for 30 points.

Grant Clarke and Micah Couch continued to win the battle underneath. Two of Paint Valley’s starters were 6-foot-9 inches and 6-foot-5 inches. The Bearcats’ height presented a challenge for a Trimble team that has dominated the glass all season.

Clarke gave Trimble second chances whenever the Bearcats fought back. Seven of his game-high 13 rebounds were on the offensive end. He laid the ball in with ease from the post to finish with 15 points.

All five of the Tomcat starters had at least one offensive rebound, overcoming the rebounding challenge early and often. Off of those boards, Trimble players pump faked to make their defender jump, and leaned into them on the put-back to draw the foul.

There was no weakness in the Trimble offense, making things too difficult for Paint Valley to handle.

“When it comes to crunch time, we’re not gonna buckle under pressure,” Downs said, “We use our experience from the football field as much as we can as an advantage.”

To rush the Tomcats on offense, the Bearcats used a 1-2-2 trap defense late in the game. The strategy led to longer possessions that resulted in easy looks for Trimble players underneath.

The post play will be tougher for the Tomcats as they continue in the tournament. Downs and Jenkins’ responsibilities could increase in their next game against Africentric on March 17 at the Convocation Center. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.