Earning Respect: Trinity Hall downs Mater Dei
OCEAN TWP. - Whether she knows it or not, Haven Dora uniquely symbolizes Trinity Hall girls basketball.
At 5-5, the sophomore guard is easy to miss. Not for a lack of talent, but for how her towering teammates cast shadows upon her. But, don’t even think about suggesting anything is out of her reach.
Sound like the Trinity Hall as a whole?
The Monarchs are rich in size, defensive grit and cohesion. They are the defending B Central champion and boast an impressive 45-17 overall record since 2018, including a sterling 33-3 mark within the division. Yet, rare is a headline reserved to trumpet their praise.
Such is the plight in the Shore Conference, where high-profile outfits with statewide notoriety tend to dominate the fertile landscapre, leaving tales like that of Trinity Hall as cute anecdotes that deserve far better despite getting much less.
Don’t get the wrong impression. The Monarchs are acutely aware of the pecking order in these parts, have the utmost respect for the programs that comprise the Shore’s upper crust and harbor no false delusions. They simply are no longer content nibbling on the crumbs and are gradually elbowing their way into a seat at the table, starving for their slice of acclaim.
“I think we are often overlooked,” 6-1 senior forward Caitlin Wingertzahn, a William & Mary recruit, shared. “We worked hard in the off season. We worked hard last year. We are up and coming and, sometimes, it feels like people don’t give us enough credit.”
With showings like the one put forth on Friday, Trinity Hall is taking significant strides toward altering that perception and earning what it yearns for. Seniors Colleen Kelly, Maggie Ward, and Wingertzahn, along with Dora and junior Emma Bradley were all at the heart of a defining second-quarter uprising that fully encapsulated exactly what the Monarchs are capable of doing. An eight-minute exercise in defensive furiosity, board dominance and offensive balance powered Trinity Hall to an emphatic 52-32 victory over Mater Dei, giving the Monarchs the inside track in their defense of the B Central crown.
"We need to keep playing like this," noted Wingertzahn, who sank a pair of 3-pointers, converted 6 of 8 at the the foul line and totaled 14 points, six rebounds, four blocks and a steal. "We have to keep this type of energy up."
No one exhibited that energy initially more than Kelly. The 5-9 forward delivered all 10 of her points in the first half. She accounted for the game's first four points to gain a lead that the Monarchs never relinquished.
"The first five minutes of the game are so important," said Kelly, who picked up five rebounds, three steals and two assists. "You set the tone and you're setting it for the rest of the game. If you come out stronger, you gain that fire and put them on the heels."
Though staggered, Mater Dei (7-5, 6-1), which had a five-game win streak snapped, was in striking distance by the end of the opening period. Sophomore guard Shelby Barksdale sank a delicate floater off the left wing that beat the buzzer and cut Trinity Hall's advantage to 13-8.
However, it wasn't until junior forward Bridget Sullivan beat the halftime horn with a putback that the Seraphs scored again. By that point, it was too little, too late.
In between those buckets, Trinity Hall embarked on a 20-0 run, one that featured seven points from Wingertzahn, five out of Ward, four by Kelly and heady work on the point from Dora, who supplied two assists, a rebound, a steal and one deft cut across the paint to sink a fadeaway runner.
While the offensive wealth was effortlessly shared, the defense was a testament to the sum of its parts. Working out of a 2-3, Trinity Hall induced six turnovers, fashioned a 12-7 edge on the glass and influenced the Seraphs into a 1-for-9 shooting spell in the second quarter.
"We want to be recognized as a team that can play," said Trinity Hall coach Matt McCarthy. "I tell them let's compete and get over the hump and they respond to that."
Trinity Hall uses its collection of size particularly well around the boards. The Monarchs ripped down 37 rebounds compared to the 22 retrieved by Mater Dei. Wingertzahn, Bradley, a 6-0 junior forward, who gripped a team-high nine caroms, and Ward, a sturdy 5-6 guard who seized eight to accompany nine points, spearheaded the charge to the glass, one that reaped 16 second-chance points.
Also in that mix was Dora. Her fearless assertiveness garnered six rebounds to go with her six assists, seven points and four steals. The slick-handling playmaker sets the hustle barometer for the Monarchs to follow and is the undeniable glue that holds everything together.
"I'm the point guard, so I have to run the floor," Dora said of her primary responsibility. "If there is anything else I can do, it's be there for my teammates doing dirty work."
"She keeps us in check and sees everything that's happening on the court," Wingertzahn said of Dora. "She knows what we are capable of. She'll come up to me and say 'I need you to do this' and I trust her. She knows what she sees and has a high IQ."
Sophomore guard Madison Lopez scored eight of her team-high 10 points in the fourth quarter for Mater Dei.
Mater Dei (7-5, 6-1) 08 02 06 16 --- 32
Trinity Hall (8-3, 6-0) 13 20 07 12 --- 52
Mater Dei: Katie Zoda 3-0-0-6; Shelby Barksdale 2-0-1-5; Liz Mauro 0-1-2-5; Jaylynn Graham 0-0-0-0; Bridget Sullivan 1-0-0-2; Madison Lopez 3-0-4-10; Jhamena Range 2-0-0-4; Lara Gritzek 0-0-0-0; Jenna Daquel 0-0-0-0.
Trinity Hall: Caitlin Wingertzahn 1-2-6-14; Colleen Kelly 4-0-2-10; Maggie Ward 3-1-0-9; Haven Dora 2-0-3-7; Emma Bradly 2-0-2-6; Cameryn Keane 2-0-0-4; Sophia Gana 0-0-0-0; Riley Dunfee 0-0-0-0; Jill DeSio 0-0-0-0; Elle Dougherty 0-0-0-0; Paige Jaenicke 0-0-0-0; Cecilia Peters 1-0-0-2.