Men’s basketball opens season with tough games

The Trinity men’s basketball team traveled to Washington last weekend to open their season. They competed in the Puget Sound Tournament, and lost their first two games against Whitworth and Pacific Lutheran, but rallied to defeat Puget Sound. Their record is now 1-2.

On Friday Trinity lost their season opener to Whitworth 53-71.

In the first half, Trinity was outscored by Whitworth, only scoring 24 points to Whitworth’s 38, shooting under 36 percent. Senior guard Rob Kitzinger scored seven of the Tiger’s first half points. Trinity shot 12-30, 40%, in the second half, while Whitworth shot 12-26, 46.2 percent. Overall, Trinity shot 22.2 percent on three-pointers. Kitzinger completed the game with 11 points. Junior guard Matt Hopper was 4-4 on field goals, scoring nine points for the Tigers.

“Against Whitworth, which was the best team we played, we were a little bit on our heels and ultimately didn’t have enough energy and competitiveness in general to get the job done. We came out sluggish and we didn’t shoot the ball well, and it affected our defense and rebounding,” said senior guard Joe Shotland.

On Saturday, Trinity fell 49-67 to Pacific Lutheran. In the first half, Trinity only trailed 24-26. Senior forward Jonathon Wilt and Kitzinger each scored seven points. Wilt had five of the Tigers’ 15 first-half rebounds. Sophomore guard Jimmy Clark and senior point guard John LaVanway both scored four points. Pacific Lutheran pulled away from Trinity in the second half, outscoring Trinity 41-25 and shooting 59.3 percent to the Trinity’s 37.5 percent. The Tigers’ bench produced 16 of the Tigers’ second-half points.

Overall, the Tigers went 18-54, shooting 33.3 percent. They recorded 26 rebounds and eight assists for the game.

“We had a hangover effect the next day against Pacific Lutheran. Out of the three, they were the worst team we played. We just didn’t come out with enough energy,” Shotland said.

Trinity capped the weekend off with a win against Puget Sound, defeating them 77-56. The Tigers led 32-26 at the half, shooting 31.2 percent. Junior guard Matt Selling and Kitzinger combined to produce 22 of the Tigers’ first-half points. Kitzinger also had five rebounds for the half. In the second half, Trinity outscored Puget Sound 45-30, shooting 62.5 percent. Kitzinger scored 10 points, while Wilt and junior guard Craig Saltarelli scored nine and seven, respectively. The Tigers completed the game with 32 rebounds, 17 assists and seven steals.

“The first two games were very similar. Offensively, we just couldn’t make shots, and, defensively, we didn’t give the effort that we should have and knew that we needed to, so we came out of the gates pretty slowly the first two games. Luckily on Sunday we had a third game and it could have gone one of two ways. We could have gone down the same path, but our guys responded really well. They did a great job, completely turned it around, it was a night and day approach to the first two games, against a good Puget Sound team. It was a good ending to a slower start than we were preparing for,” said assistant coach Ross Burt.

This weekend the Tigers will travel to Maryland to play Keystone College (Penn.) and Ohio Wesleyan at the Hoopsville National Invitational Classic DIII Hoops Tournament.

“We played some really good teams this weekend, all in the top 25, and it was a necessary experience. Unfortunately it took two games for us to play like we are capable of playing, but we are looking to strive off of the last game. We know what it takes to get it done at that level,” Kitzinger said.