Trinity’s boys basketball team wasn’t much of a factor in last year’s Lake Mead Holiday Classic, losing twice on the first day to bow out of title contention.
But with four starters back and a renewed focus on defense, the Thunder made its presence felt Thursday.
Trinity (2-1) won 54-47 over Basic and 40-29 over Henderson International to win its pool and advance to today’s Gold Bracket.
“It’s big,” Trinity guard Budweiser Hawkins said. “We have a lot of doubters, so it’s just good to come out, work as a team and accomplish the things that we needed to get done.”
The senior guard scored 29 points against the Wolves and had 20 points, six rebounds and two steals against the Wolverines.
Hawkins averaged 25.9 points as a junior, but no other player averaged double figures on a team that finished with a 13-13 record.
“I think (Hawkins) understands now, for us to be successful, everybody has to play together,” Thunder coach Keith Harris said. “(Hawkins is) going to score; he’s going to get his points. But now he understands that, ‘I know my team has to score, too.’”
Hawkins’ team scored plenty Thursday, with freshman forward Tyler Watts putting up 14 points against Henderson International and 10 against Basic.
Harris was impressed with Trinity’s defense, which allowed only 16 second-half points to Basic and eight second-half points to Henderson International.
“Our defense is what I’m pounding into them,” he said. “Defense, defense, defense is going to win us games.”
“That’s what wins games,” he said. “That was our focus in the beginning of the game. We have to work hard on defense first, and then our offense will come.”
Toney Jones scored 14 points for defending tournament champion Basic. The Wolves were without several rotation players who are still working their way into basketball shape after playing on the football team, which ended the season Saturday with a loss in the Class 4A state semifinals.
In the Henderson International game, Jay Sutorius led the Wolverines with 13 points.
In other pool-play games:
Basic 33, Henderson International 29 — Jalen Rose scored 10 points to help the Wolves hold off the Wolverines.
Sutorius scored 19 points for Henderson International, which nearly erased a 20-9 halftime deficit.
Lake Mead 62, Calvary Chapel 41 — Landon Littlefield scored 21 points and De’Quan Thompson added 20 to lead the Eagles in a rout of the Lions.
Spencer Kowis added 10 points for Lake Mead, which led 32-13 at halftime.
Tyler Moore scored 17 points and Kapono Tanaka-Sanders had 10 for Calvary Chapel.
Lake Mead 60, Spring Mountain 26 — Littlefield poured in 26 points to lead Lake Mead to an easy win.
Thompson added 13 for Lake Mead, which led 39-13 at halftime.
Darrius Thomas led Spring Mountain with nine points.
Calvary Chapel 46, Spring Mountain 25 — Brandon Corbett scored 17 points and Moore added 12 to help the Lions beat the Eagles.
Brandon Thompson led Spring Mountain with nine points.
The Meadows 30, Boulder City 29 (OT) — Dylan Lee’s free throw with 2.2 seconds remaining in overtime lifted the Mustangs past the Eagles.
Garrett Gosse’s 3-pointer gave The Meadows a 27-25 lead with 9.5 seconds remaining in regulation, but Boulder City forced overtime on a jumper by Kyle Dimpel as time expired.
Gosse scored 15 points for The Meadows.
Dimpel had 11 for Boulder City.
The Meadows 52, Indian Springs 29 — Max Newman scored 18 points to lead the Mustangs past the Thunderbirds.
Gosse added 15 points and Austin Brown had 10 for The Meadows, which outscored Indian Springs 33-9 in the second half.
Adam Reinke and Junior Baker scored eight points apiece for Indian Springs.
Boulder City 56, Indian Springs 23 — Dimpel and Preston Swasey scored 11 points each for the Eagles, who had 12 players score in the win.
Boulder City sprinted to a 25-3 lead.
Reinke led the Thunderbirds with eight points.
Beatty 44, San Diego Lutheran 21 — Ivan Maldonado hit five 3-pointers on his way to 19 points to lead the Hornets past the Knights.
Lincoln County 68, Beatty 49 — Dantley Walker poured in 30 points and Eric Rippetoe added 21 as the Lynx cruised past the Hornets.
Anthony Regalado scored 18 points and Maldonado had 12 for Beatty.
Lincoln County 71, San Diego Lutheran 24 — Walker scored 21 points and three Lincoln County players scored in double figures as the Lynx routed the Knights.
Rippetoe scored 15 points, and Bruce Condie added 10 for Lincoln County.