The goal set by the Trinity College men’s basketball team at the end of last season was clear: Win a national championship.
After losing in the Small Bible College National Invitational Tournament title game last spring, the Tigers went to Southington, Connecticut and took home the national crown this time around. Trinity College blew by Trinity Baptist College of Jacksonville 94-61 and was fueled by Chris Kolaxsis’ five 3-pointers in the victory. The Tigers finished the season with a record of 18-7.
“We knew coming in we had good talent, but we knew good talent doesn’t always win it,” Trinity College coach Rob Oppedisano said. “We told the guys, we are just the coaches. Players win the games. They got on the court and got it done. We were able to compete with the upper level teams without our own gym. But with our talent and what we have on the floor, we are able to compete with teams that have their own facilities.”
The tournament MVP was Trinity’s Dante Mitchell, who averaged a team-high 13.8 points per game this season. Taking home All-America honors were Mitchell and De-vonte Lamar, who was third on the team in scoring at 9.5 points per contest. Oppesdiasano said having a deep bench proved beneficial.
“We had 15 guys that could play,” Oppedisano said. “We get into our bench, we were five in and five out. We played teams that could play seven or eight. We had 15 guys that could step in and play. We didn’t have just that one player we looked to. We had guys coming off the bench and playing well. We just had great depth.”
The steady ascension to the top for the New Port Richey school has been realized by Oppedisano, who took over the program after the 2012-13 season. Trinity had won only nine games from 2011 to 2013 and after third- and second-place finishes in the national tournament, the Tigers have slowly become a force in the National Christian College Athletic Association Division II basketball circuit.
“I expect us to keep winning,” Oppedisano said. “When we go out and recruit now, they know who we are. Players are calling us now. Guys know it. They know they’ll get to learn, get technique and a chance to play immediately. We want guys of great character. We had a team GPA of 3.0, and the guys are getting their work done in the classroom. It’s pretty neat. We just look to reload one year at a time.”