Article by Michael Bullock, The Patriot-News/Photos by Chris Knight, The Patriot-News
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Sitting in the visiting locker room Thursday night, just a few moments before he and his Trinity Shamrocks teammates bounced on to the floor, Dylan DeFrank formulated his game plan.
Bring it hard.
Bring it from the start.
And bring it until he could bring it no more.
Among other things.
Banking a game-high 27 points, DeFrank also snared a half-dozen boards, dished out several assists and worked up a serious lather on defense as Trinity uncorked a late surge that led to a gritty 56-42 victory over Mechanicsburg in a Mid-Penn crossover at raucous Mechanicsburg High School.
Brad Wesner added 10 points for the Shamrocks (4-1) — more on his sparkling sequence later — who were money at the foul line (15 of 18 in the fourth) as the game wound down.
Collin Farnham netted 15 points for Bob Strickler’s gritty Wildcats (2-4), whose lone lead (31-30) came with 1:28 to go in the third when John Thompson drained the second of two freebies.
Seconds later, Wesner was picking himself off the floor after burying a deep trey from the right wing and getting fouled. The ‘and one’ briskly turned the Shamrocks’ one-point deficit into a three-point advantage and sapped momentum from a Mechanicsburg side that played uphill all night.
“And we couldn’t get over the hump,” Strickler cracked.
Then, after Jake Trump (6 points, 10 boards) had an empty trip to the foul line that could have sliced into Trinity’s lead, DeFrank made that hill a little steeper by sticking his fourth 3-ball.
“That was a big swing right there,” said Trinity coach Larry Kostelac Jr., who lauded junior Jay Agnew for his work on Mechanicsburg lead guard Josh Smith (0 points, 3 early assists). “That’s a seven-point swing and all of a sudden you’re in the driver’s seat.”
“That was just a big shot and when he came through, that was just a momentum swing,” added DeFrank, whose dish put Wesner in catch-and-shoot mode. “After that, we all just picked it up and it got us going. … It was just a great shot by him and he does it all the time.”
DeFrank wasn’t too shabby from the perimeter himself. Witness his pop from the left corner — almost the same spot he buried a game-winning rip last season at East Pennsboro — in the closing seconds of the third quarter. Just part of an energy-packed performance.
“Wesner found me in the corner and I stepped into it,” DeFrank admitted.
“Our offensive sets are just like a road map, it gets you there,” Kostelac said. “But the game’s gonna dictate how you react and I thought we did a terrific job of creating plays.
“And I thought that started with Dylan.”
Although Mechanicsburg sliced into Trinity’s lead early in the fourth, a tough Wesner finish restored some order. DeFrank then authored his own six-point run to make it 45-37.
The Wildcats couldn’t answer.
“When I look at the two teams tonight, I don’t question effort on either side,” admitted Strickler, who couldn’t say enough about what the 6-6 Trump contributed off the bench.
“They executed a little bit better when the rubber met the road.”
Article by Bill Landis, The Sentinel/Photos by Jason Malmont, The Sentinel
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For Photos of the game, click here.
It was clear from his first shot attempt of the game that Trinity’s Dylan DeFrank was going to have a good game.
But it’s doubtful that DeFrank, who nailed his first two 3-point attempts early in the first quarter, thought he was going to have a career game.
That’s exactly what the Shamrocks’ 5-foot-11 guard did, though, posting a career-high 27 points in Trinity’s 56-42 road win over Mechanicsburg Thursday night.
“I just wanted to come out and get a couple good shots early,” DeFrank said. “I knocked down a couple shots early and we just came through when we needed to in the end.”
Trinity (4-1, 3-0 Capital Div.) couldn’t get much separation from the Wildcats (2-4, 1-2 Keystone Div.), but when it did it was because of DeFrank.
Mechanicsburg took advantage of some poor Trinity shooting in the first half and kept it at a two-point Trinity lead at the break. But DeFrank scored 10 of his game-high 27 points in the third quarter to help the Shamrocks create some space between them and Mechanicsburg.
Brett Minter got a fastbreak layup to start the second half for Mechanicsburg and knotted the game at 21. DeFrank answered with a bucket to give the lead back to the Shamrocks. In a back-and-forth early segment of the third quarter, the Wildcats refused to go away as Trinity started to get its offense going.
The ‘Rocks were able to pull away in the third after Brad Wesner hit a three while getting fouled and completed the four-point play. DeFrank nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner off an inbounds play to help Trinity end the quarter on a 7-0 run and take a six-point lead into the fourth.
The third quarter was the best from the field for the Shamrocks as they completed five field goals, including three from long range, and allowed their offense to create openings for them. After settling for hurried shots in the first half, the Trinity players began to show a little more patience and pass up on the first shot to find the second or third open opportunity.
“In the second half we ran our sets and executed well,” Trinity coach Larry Kostelac said. “Guys who were pulling the trigger quickly in the first half had the presence of mind and patience to pass up on that first shot.”
Wesner finished the third quarter with six of his 10 points and was the only other Trinity player to reach double-digits.
Mechanicsburg had one player, junior guard Collin Farnham, in double digits – and he had to work for those points. The 5-foot-8 junior came into the game as Mechanicsburg’s leading-scorer with just over 14 points per game. The Shamrocks defense held him to 13 Thursday by limiting his open looks and getting physical when they could.
Farnham found himself on the floor a few times Thursday night, but to his credit continued to battle and made a couple of big baskets for the Wildcats.
In that back-and-forth segment of the third quarter, Farnham twice tied the game with a layup and a 3-pointer.
“I thought they were really physical with Collin,” Mechanicsburg coach Bob Strickler said. “I was proud of him, he fought through it. That’s one of our next steps, though. We need guys to step up with confidence and get good shots.”
With Trinity’s Jay Agnew all over the Wildcats’ main distributor, Josh Smith, it was difficult for the ‘Cats to get the ball into Farnham’s hands. More so, it was difficult for any other Mechanicsburg player to take advantage of the attention given to Smith and Farnham.
Mechanicsburg had seven other players score, but none scored more than six points, and only three players registered a field goal in the fourth quarter.
Trinity sealed the game by going 13 for 14 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, with DeFrank adding to his career-high total with a 5 for 6 mark from the line.
“Down the stretch they fouled us, our kids put the ball in the basket,” Kostelac said. “The difference between winning by 14 and winning by six is that — getting fouled because a team is in a desperate situation and putting the ball in the hole.”