There will some double-takes when Indiana basketball fans read the final score of Saturday afternoon’s Trinity Lutheran 62, Jeffersonville 57 girls basketball game.
This was Class 1A versus Class 4A, the kind of foregone conclusion match-up in many minds based on school size alone. But it turned out more like Milan against the world.
“I think there’ll probably be a little bit of surprise that will jump out to some,” said Cougars’ coach Mike Lang.
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This was a last-minute arranged game to fill gaps in both schools’ original schedules due to coronavirus cancellations, not even agreed to happen until Thursday. The season will tell just how much of an upset the result was with Trinity now at 6-1 and Jeffersonville at 1-5, but it wasn’t as if the Cougars had a long time to develop their winning game plan.
Less than 48 hours passed from the time Lang learned Trinity would play the Red Devils Saturday instead of South Central.
“I spent my day Friday preparing, watching film,” Lang said after giving the players a day off from practice and then educating them on a walk-through Saturday.
Guard Bailey Tabeling earned an “A” on the exam, stealing the ball, generating fast-breaks, nailing lay-ups and three-pointers for 36 points, equaling her career high of last season.
“I feel like bigger schools under-estimate us,” said the 5-9 sophomore.
An early blitz set the tone. Trinity dashed to a 12-2 start and Tabeling threw down 12 points in the first quarter alone. The Cougars’ inside-outside game, with 6-3 pivot player Sydney Jaynes defending the middle and making outside shots for many of her 16 points, had Jeffersonville off-balance from the beginning.
Tabeling said it was almost as if the Red Devils initially didn’t think Trinity could run with them. Then the Cougars ran them.
“We were pumped up and ready to go,” she said.
It took some time, but Jeffersonville whittled down the margin and eventually, if only for very short stretches, took the lead. The first occasion was at 33-32 and that lasted less than 20 seconds when Jaynes fired in a 3-pointer.
The Red Devils made a charge in the fourth quarter, taking leads of 50-49 and 55-53, but Trinity didn’t flinch. There was some scrambling, missed shots and loose balls in the last 45 seconds, but Tabeling scored the last five points when things slipped into the danger zone.
“The composure we had,” Lang said. “I wasn’t too worried.”
Cadence Singleton (13 points) and Aija Estes (12) tried to bring Jeffersonville back, but Trinity always had an answer. If she wasn’t shooting, Jaynes was still often controlling the ball, with 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
Trinity was supposed to play Edinburgh Thursday night and that game was scratched because of virus-related issues. The Cougars were also supposed to play South Central on the road Saturday and that was called off.
In the type of merry-go-round of scheduling made commonplace by the COVID-19 pandemic, Trinity ended up hosting four basketball games (girls and boys JV and varsity) at the Bollinger Athletic Complex Saturday when initially no home games were scheduled.
These were Trinity’s first home games played under the stage red alert which limited attendance capacity in this gym to 10 percent.
It wasn’t as if the small-school bunch was intimidated when it found out about this game versus a 4A team.
“We weren’t really worried,” said guard Kailene Cockerham, who scored 5 points.
The only other Tinity scorers were Emma Schepman and Liza Froedge, with 2 points each, and Genesis Munoz with 1 point.
Jaynes, who is bound for NCAA Division I Butler next season, and Tabeling, thought facing a team with a bigger name might provide benefits, win or lose.
“I love the challenge,” said Jaynes, who mirrored Lang’s thought some fans might believe the final score they read is a typographical error. “I think they’ll say, ‘What?’”
“This year has been super weird. I’m glad we had this opportunity.”
Tabeling said the smooth way the Cougars handled Jeffersonville might be something to call on when sectional and regional play come around.
“I thought this could really help us,” she said. “It gets us ready for tournament time.”