By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published March 19, 2009
A two-hour bus ride to the Macon Coliseum and four eight-minute quarters of state final basketball competition separated the Titans of Blessed Trinity from their first state title. In the end, the sharp shooting Fighting Irish of Dublin High School played the spoiler as they defeated Blessed Trinity 79-64.
It’s one thing to face a good team on a mediocre shooting day, but on an exceptional shooting day it puts that much more pressure on a team’s defense. Dublin went on scoring runs of 9-0 and 9-2 in the first half. The Dublin offense was in a zone as they shot 67 percent from the 3-point line. Dublin senior shooting guards Chris Smith and Sherrard Brantley had three 3-pointers apiece in the first half. Blessed Trinity trailed 36-21 at halftime.
During the break Blessed Trinity head coach Brian Marks told his team they couldn’t close the 15-point gap all at once, but they had to chip away at it and try to get it down to single digits by the fourth quarter. Blessed Trinity went out in the second half and employed that strategy, but seemingly every time they made a run Dublin would come back down and hit a big shot. By the end of the third quarter Dublin had increased the lead to 16.
Several hundred Blessed Trinity faithful in the crowd stood with screams of support and applause as their team took to the court for the final quarter. With 6:12 left, Blessed Trinity went on a 7-2 run. With 5:05 remaining, Blessed Trinity senior guards Ryan LeGates and Eric Rouse hounded Dublin point guard Rashard Smith in the backcourt for a near steal, but instead the official called a foul on LeGates. With just under 5 minutes remaining, Blessed Trinity pulled to within 10, but that is as close as the Titans would get. The Dublin team, shooting nearly 70 percent from the field for the game, pulled away for good to win the Class AA championship by 15.
In a somber locker room following the game, Coach Marks expressed how proud he was of the team. “We’re one of the best teams in AA. What a season and what a run! You worked so hard this season, and you’re second in the entire state. It hurts and stings now, but what you did was unbelievably special.”
on the bus ride back to Roswell, LeGates said, “It was great we got to go farther than any team in school history, and the support from the school was amazing. It’s rare to get two back-to-back seasons that good.”
Blessed Trinity advanced to the second round of the state tournament for the first time during the 2007-2008 season. After losing seven seniors and four starters to graduation, they still managed to win 26 games and reach the state finals this season.
LeGates finished with 23 points, junior guard Jake Skole scored 14 points and Brendan Corcoran and Rouse added nine each. Dublin’s Chris Smith and Brantley finished with 28 and 15 points, respectively. Center Tawaski King contributed 16 points, and Rashard Smith poured in 12.
Coach Marks added, “The postseason experience was wonderful for our boys basketball program as well as for the school. Our fan support was top notch. The amount of students, faculty and community members that followed us through the state playoffs was incredible. I believe our run to the championship brought our close-knit school community even closer, and it brightened a lot of peoples’ lives for a few small weeks in what has been a bleak economic time.”