LOUISVILLE — Jeffersonville had its chance to win an outright conference championship and knock off a top-ranked team on the same night.
The Red Devils would have to settle for their first outright Hoosier Hills Conference championship in six years — thanks to Bedford North Lawrence’s 50-44 win over New Albany — after they had their nine-game winning streak snapped by a 61-54 loss to Kentucky No. 1 Trinity on Friday.
“Coming into this year, in August, my goal was just to field a team with good kids that Jeffersonville could be proud of,” Devils coach Chad Gilbert said. “They’ve surpassed all expectations. My only regret is that I don’t have everyone another year. I wish they were all juniors.”
Gilbert said despite wrapping up the league title, his team isn’t done competing in the HHC. Jeff hosts Columbus East on Tuesday with a chance to be the second team in program history to go 7-0 in the league.
“We’re very happy to win the conference, but we know there’s still business to take care of,” Gilbert said.
After trailing 34-22 at the half and 48-40 after three quarters on Friday, Jeff had a chance to pull off the upset late in the fourth quarter.
After cutting the Shamrock lead to 52-49 with 3:20 left after five straight Trice Whaley points, Jeff appeared to have Trinity stopped on the defensive end.
Darryl Hicks, who had a double-double with 16 points and 10 boards for the Shamrocks, missed a pair of 3-pointers, but Trinity center Nathan Dieudonne got both offensive rebounds. On the second, he kicked it out to Troy Saxton, who knocked down a 3 to give the Rocks a commanding 55-49 with 2:17 remaining.
Trinity hit 6-of-8 from the foul line to clinch its 21st victory in its last 23 games.
“We had a chance to get closer,” Gilbert said. “Trinity came up with every 50/50 ball. We have to put ourselves in position to get those balls.”
Despite the effort, there were tears in the eyes of the Jeff players and Gilbert said his program will not be satisfied with moral victories.
“Every time we step on the floor, we expect to win,” he said. “How many times do you get to play a No. 1 team? We had every intention of coming in here and winning, so we’re disappointed.”
The Shamrocks hit five of their first seven 3-point attempts to take an early 19-13 lead, but Darryl Baker kept the Devils in the game with seven first-quarter points and Jeff trailed 20-15 after one.
The Red Devil offense went cold in the second quarter with Baker on the bench in foul trouble. Jeff went 1-for-5 from the floor with six turnovers in the period.
Sophomore Dionte Allen scored five of Jeff’s seven points in the quarter and finished with 11 points and six rebounds. Allen’s performance followed an 18-point, 5-rebound outing in Jeff’s 85-51 win over Corydon Central on Tuesday.
“Dionte is a man,” Gilbert said. “He just keeps getting better.”
Whaley, who went scoreless in the first half, got Jeff closer with six third-quarter points. In the fourth, he got a steal and assist to Bryce Roland to cut Trinity’s lead to 48-44 with 6:54 remaining.
He then hit a running bank shot and a 3 to get Jeff within three with 3:20 left. Whaley scored 10 points in the final stanza and finished with a team-high 16 points.
“He made plays and made some big shots,” Gilbert said. “He did things in the flow of the game. I’m not sure he would have done that earlier in the season.”
JEFF 15 7 18 14—54
LOU. TRINITY 20 14 14 13—61
Jeffersonville (15-3) — Whaley 16, Roland 7, Kinnaird 0, Jon. Ellis 0, Jor. Ellis 8, Baker 10, D. Ellis 0, Allen 11, Harvey 2.
Trinity (26-3) — Hicks 16, Foster 7, Saxton 10, Perito 2, Rice 5, Dieudonne 16, Thurman 0, Quick 5, Owens 0, Page 0.
3-point field goals — Jeffersonville 2 (Whaley, Roland); Trinity 7 (Hicks 2, Foster, Saxton, Rice, Dieudonne, Quick).
Rebounds — Jeffersonville 31 (Roland 7); Trinity 23 (Hicks 10).
Assists — Jeffersonville 6 (Whaley, Jon. Ellis 2); Trinity 7 (Foster 3).
Steals — Jeffersonville 3 (Whaley 2); Trinity 6 (Foster 3).
Blocked shots — Jeffersonville 2 (Baker, D. Ellis); Trinity 1 (Hicks).
Turnovers — Jeffersonville 14, Trinity 7.