2013-03-06 / Sports

Former Cosby player key to Trinity championship

By Jim McConnell

Chesterfield County residents Abraham Ferrell-Logan (left), Josh Brown and Jaylen Hinton were three key performers this season for Trinity Episcopal’s boys’ basketball team. 
Jim McConnell/Chesterfield Observer Chesterfield County residents Abraham Ferrell-Logan (left), Josh Brown and Jaylen Hinton were three key performers this season for Trinity Episcopal’s boys’ basketball team. Jim McConnell/Chesterfield Observer Until Feb. 23, Rick Hamlin was the last point guard to lead Trinity Episcopal School’s boys’ basketball team to a Prep League championship.

The fact that Hamlin, Trinity’s second-year head coach, now has flecks of gray in his hair and beard offers a clue to how long it’s been since the Titans enjoyed such success.

It was 16 years ago, to be exact.

So it was more than a little satisfying for Trinity’s players, coaches and fans when senior guard Jaylen Hinton sank a buzzer-beating shot to give the Titans a 54-52 victory over top-seeded Christchurch in the 2013 Prep League tournament final.

Hinton’s shot also avenged Trinity’s heartbreaking, triple-overtime loss to Christchurch in last season’s tournament final. But that was just icing on the cake for the current group of Titans.

The title “means a lot,” said junior guard Abraham Ferrell-Logan, who scored 13 points in the Christchurch game. “It was good to finally win one.”

Despite losing six seniors from last season’s squad, including Prep League player of the year Torey Burston, Hamlin insisted that he wasn’t surprised that his team was able to end its conference championship drought. One big reason for his confidence was the presence of Hinton, a Chesterfield County resident who transferred to Trinity from Cosby High School.

The lightning-quick 6-foot-1-inch point guard is being recruited by a variety of Division I college basketball programs – Old Dominion, Georgia State, Florida Atlantic, Cornell and Dartmouth, among them.

Beyond his natural ability, Hinton has two intangible qualities the former point guard in Hamlin appreciates: He’s a tremendous leader and he’s just about the furthest thing from a ball hog.

“People have commended me for bringing our program back to the top, but it wouldn’t have been possible without Jaylen,” Hamlin said. “He’s been more responsible for our resurgence the last two years than anyone.”

Ironically, Hinton nearly wound up playing for Trinity‘s biggest rival. When Hinton decided to leave Cosby after the 2010-11 season, his father wanted him to enroll at Benedictine.

But despite being accepted by the Richmond prep basketball powerhouse, the younger Hinton was determined to attend Trinity and help restore the Titans’ past basketball glory.

“I told him I’d rather be the underdog that shows them they’re not as good as they think they are,” Hinton said.

Trinity didn’t beat Benedictine during Hinton’s two seasons at the school, but it certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying. The Titans lost their three meetings with the Cadets by a total of 13 points .

At that point, Trinity’s record was 12-5. The Titans were in the midst of a seven-game stretch without starting guard Josh Brown, a talented 6-foot-4-inch sophomore from Chesterfield who was out with a sprained ankle.

Brown’s absence forced Trinity to get other players more involved, Hamlin said. When Brown returned to the court, the Titans struggled to find enough scoring opportunities for everyone, and team chemistry suffered.

The situation came to a head after Trinity’s 60-55 loss to Norfolk Collegiate on Feb. 2. Hamlin called out his players for putting their own interests ahead of the team. “We had four guys who all thought they should be our leading scorer,” Hamlin said.

With Hinton, Brown and Ferrell-Logan handling the perimeter and Aaron Williams working hard in the paint, Trinity closed the season with 10 wins in its last 14 games.

After beating Christchurch in the Prep League final, the Titans rolled into the Virginia Independent Schools state tournament.

Trinity beat Episcopal High in the first round of the state tournament, but fell 59-51 to Cape Henry Collegiate of Virginia Beach in the quarterfinals last week.

Watching their season end one victory shy of a trip to the state Final Four for the second consecutive year was frustrating, Brown said.

Adding insult to injury, the charter bus Trinity had booked for the trip to Cape Henry suffered suspension damage after a flat tire. It took several hours for the bus company to get another bus down to Virginia Beach, and the team didn’t return to Richmond until nearly 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Later that day, though, the tired Titans were determined to get back to work and prepare to defend their Prep League title.

“I have the utmost confidence that they’ll continue this success,” Hinton said.

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