Trinity Catholic posed one big problem in the middle for Hermann’s boys basketball team, and Bearcats Coach Josh Vinyard knew that going into Wednesday’s Class 3 state sectional basketball game at Francis Howell Central. But the Titans’ athleticism on the perimeter turned out to be just as big a factor in the Bearcats’ 63-32 loss to the north St. Louis County school.
Hermann limited Ryan Kalkbrenner, Trinity’s 7-0 junior, to just eight points, but it was more his presence than points that gave the Titans a leg up on the Bearcats, who started out tentative.
“Knowing that he’s back there with that length, we didn’t attack enough and a 7-footer with his skills gives you a huge advantage,” said Vinyard, whose Bearcats finished a successful season with a 22-7 record.
Trinity, improving to 25-3, advanced to a Class 3 quarterfinal showdown against No. 1 Vashon (22-5) at noon Saturday at Normandy High School. The Titans are the No. 2 team in the St. Louis area small schools poll, and lost by one point (59-58) to the Wolverines several weeks ago.
It didn’t take long for Rashad Weekly to jump-start Trinity with a three pointer on the first possession of the game. The Titans went on a big 17-0 run right from the start and were on their way to dominating things. Trinity’s Rashaud Johnson did much of the damage, scoring eight points, including a pair of threes.
“Their guards are so good on the ball and their athleticism hurt us,” said Vinyard. “Their pressure took us out of what we wanted to do, but they did that to about everyone they played this year. Not many teams have a 7-footer, and they have a lot to go with him.”
Chet Moeckli knocked down a three for Hermann’s first points, but it didn’t come until there were just 59 seconds left in the opening quarter. On the bright side, Hermann appeared to have some fight when it scored six of the final eight points of the first quarter and trailed 19-6 after 8 minutes.
On offense, it was the Bearcats’ Trent Anderson, a 6-4 junior and Hermann’s leading scorer, who went head-to-head with Trinity’s tall post player. Anderson finished with 13 points to lead his team in scoring.
“Trent took it right at him (Kalkbrenner) and competed really hard against him,” said Vinyard, who added that Hermann executed its game plan against the Titans’ 7-footer.
“We wanted to double down on him every time he caught the ball inside. We weren’t going to let him beat us,” Vinyard added. “But they (Trinity) had too much other talent, and when we dug ourselves a hole in the first quarter, we made it very tough to come back.”
Trinity started the second quarter with another big spurt, outscoring Hermann 11-0 to build a commanding 30-6 lead with 2:34 to play in the half.
Moeckli, one of four seniors who were instrumental in Hermann’s successful year, buried another trey in a 5-4 run to close the half, but Hermann still trailed 34-11 at the break.
Rhet Scheidegger, Hermann’s 6-3 senior point guard who sprained an ankle in Hermann’s district win over O’Fallon Christian, was not at full speed against Trinity.
“He wanted to play and he did the best he could,” said Vinyard. “We got that kind of effort from all the kids all season long. They always played hard.”
Hermann seemed to have settled down and more than doubled its first half point total in the third quarter, but was still outscored 18-12 in the period as Trinity increased its lead to 52-23.
Early in the third quarter Scheidegger hit a three and Anderson followed with a power-move basket inside as Hermann put together it last back-to-back scores. Trinity led, 38-16, with 5:20 remaining in the quarter. Moeckli, who had nine points in the game, also hit a three in the quarter.
Vinyard said the Bearcats achieved a lot this season, winning two tournaments in the regular season and then capturing the school’s first district title in nine years. He hopes playing in the state sectional whets the appetite of the underclassmen.
“The experience of getting to play against a team like that I hope will motivate the kids who are coming back,” Vinyard said. “It was good for our school and our community. It kind of got everybody fired up. Hopefully, this will make the kids coming back want to do it again.”
Rounding out Hermann’s scoring, Scheidegger and Chase McKague each had three points, while Carter Hemeyer and Boyd Phillips scored two apiece. Two other Hermann seniors who closed out their careers in Wednesday’s sectional were Andrew Schannuth and Sam Holland.