Santa Fe falls to Trinity Catholic in Hitchcock’s Challenge final


ALACHUA – The Santa Fe High School Hitchcock’s Challenge Basketball Tournament wrapped up Thursday night after three days of high-level high school basketball action.

“We’ve had a great week,” said Santa Fe basketball head coach Glen Banks. “Lots of good basketball. I’m glad this is my first year as a coach and we’re actually getting to the championship game.”

Santa Fe (8-5), who finished the tournament 2-1, met the Trinity Catholic Celtics (13-2) in Thursday night’s Championship game at the Legacy Park Multipurpose Center in a game that saw Trinity Catholic s run away with a 61-43 victory over the Raiders.

Trinity Catholic Goes to Quick Start

The Celtics orchestrated a 12-0 run in the opening minutes of the game, creating a hole too big for the Raiders to ever dig.

Trinity Catholic got help from four different goal scorers early on as seniors Elijah Russell, Jeremiah Russell, Chris Heard and junior Greg Maxwell each found the basket in the opening minutes of the game.

Jumping early has been common for the Celtics, according to Trinity Catholic head coach Carlos Villalobos.

“We’ve done it in the last three or four games and we’ve relaxed a bit,” said Villalobos. “So we talked about it at halftime and we said to the guys, ‘Again, we get up early and relax. We have to stop doing this and play a full game.’.

Raiders’ athleticism narrows the gap

When you look at Trinity Catholic’s listing, what you see is what you get: a lot of size.

Four of the Celtics’ five starters on a 6-foot-5 or more stretch, while Santa Fe’s tallest roster, 6-foot-5, Mason Brown, was unavailable.

“Yeah, they’re size… but they’re not fast,” Banks said. “Height at the start was a factor, then I think midway through the game our speed balanced us out a bit and we got back into the game.”

In the back half of the first quarter, Santa Fe junior Dontrell Jenkins started to find his rhythm and dropped two three balls, one of which came from far behind the arc.

Jenkins led the Raiders with 18 points, while fellow junior Kyren Washington added 11.

“The thing about (Jenkins) is he’s going to have his,” Villalobos said of Jenkins. “We’re just trying to control it as much as we can and we’ve done a really good job for the most part.”

Elijah Russell, foul trouble haunts Santa Fe to the end

After struggling to get back into the game and cut the deficit to just five, the Raiders were looking to strike back in the second half.

However, the great Trinity Catholic man, Elijah Russell, had other plans.

Russell, who is 6ft 7in tall and recently signed up to play football for Marshall University, is not only tall, but the future Division I footballer is also very strong.

“He’s strong… he doesn’t even do anything special offensively,” Banks said. “He just bounces and puts the ball in. He doesn’t shoot it… rebounds and recoils. And that’s his specialty. He’s a special player.”

Elijah Russell’s 13 points were second for the Celtics, who were led by senior Ashton Lovette with 14 points.

Trinity Catholic finished with their five double-digit starters.

Meanwhile, down the stretch, the Raiders found themselves struggling, giving the Celtics opportunities to capitalize on the foul line.

Trinity Catholic converted 22 of his 31 free throw attempts Thursday night.

Look ahead

Trinity Catholic ends a streak that has featured eight games in 10 days. Luckily for the Celtics, they get an 11-day hiatus before returning to action on January 11 when they host PK Yonge for a 7:30 p.m. tip.

Meanwhile, Santa Fe will return to hardwood on January 4 when it hosts Lake City Columbia at 7:30 p.m.


Comments are closed.