LEXINGTON – In a game of runs that may have redefined Exhibit 'A' for that entry in the basketball vernacular, Trinity enjoyed the last one Sunday and squelched Scott County's state championship dreams at Rupp Arena.
The Shamrocks sealed the deal with 21 of the final 28 points, overcoming a four-point deficit with eight minutes left and taking their second title in eight seasons back to Louisville, 50-40.
"Two teams really battled their tail off," SC coach Billy Hicks said after what was likely the final game of his remarkable, four-decade career. "They had David Johnson, and we didn’t."
Johnson, who will take his talents down the street to U of L next year, captured tournament most valuable player honors with 22 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Stan Turnier scored 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter for Trinity (30-8), including consecutive 3-pointers to erase SC's tenuous four-point lead and put the Shamrocks in control.
"Beginning of the fourth quarter, we were fired up," Johnson said. "In our minds we knew we were going to win the game, and that’s what we did."
Scott County (35-4) fell in the title game for the second straight year. The Cards were seeking the program's third state title in seven state-game appearances under Hicks.
The Cards received a double-double from Michael Moreno (12 points, 12 rebounds) in his farewell performance. Diablo Stewart added 10 points and Glenn Covington eight, with each adding three steals.
"Down the stretch they made the big plays," Moreno said. "Stan and Dave hit some big threes. They were really tough on the glass, only allowing us to get one shot. I think at the end they may have wanted it a little more than we did."
Shooting was spotty all day at 32.7 percent for SC, and never more of a grind than in the fourth quarter, when the Cards connected only once in the first 6:49.
Turnier's two bombs turned a 35-31 Shamrock deficit into a 37-35 lead with 4:11 to go.
"We had to work so hard to get the lead that it took a lot out of us," Hicks said. "We turned it over and took bad shots. Then we lost Turnier in transition, and Turnier hit the threes. They had the legs to make some threes, and we didn’t."
Those shots sparked a run of 15 unanswered points on the heels of matching 11-0 runs by each team.
Johnson's fifth 3-pointer of the day stretched the lead. Turnier also transformed a steal into a 3-point play, sandwiching the final media timeout with the layup and the free throw to make it a 43-35 gap.
After Moreno's short jumper to double the Cards' lead with 5:46 left, Scott County sputtered through eight consecutive empty possessions.
"We didn’t wither. We were tough with the ball when we needed to be against their pressure," Trinity coach Mike Szabo said. "We just were very, very strong and in the moment today at both ends. We needed that today, because they’re so good.
"Scott County is an unbelievable team. I told our guys this morning it was going to our absolute best game to beat them, and that is probably our best game, right there."
Szabo expanded upon those comments by proclaiming the win over Scott County -- Kentucky's wire-to-the-shadow-of-the-finish-line No. 1 -- an "upset." He couldn't convince Turnier.
"I don’t think so at all. I think we were neck-and-neck," the senior wing said. "There were two great teams going at it. Any night it could be different."
SC never trailed in the first half after jumping out to a 7-0 lead. Trinity settled in with Johnson's initial rainmaker from beyond the arc and a Turnier steal-and-drive.
Bryce Long's backdoor cut produced a 3-point play, thanks to a beautiful feed from Moreno, to give SC a 12-8 edge late in the first period. But the Cards bailed out Turnier by fouling him in the act of an off-balance three at the horn, and he sank two of the resulting free throws.
Similarly, despite twin triples from Stewart and Covington, Johnson's double-pump 3-pointer at the second quarter horn sent the teams into the locker room tied at 22.
"It was aggravating because with point-nine seconds to go in the first quarter, they got a foul and free throws, and then they hit that three to end the half," Hicks said. "We gave them five points in six seconds. You’ve got to play better defense than that."
Johnson drained another triple from the right corner to start the third quarter. Drives to the basket by Johnson and Jamil Hardaway put the Cards in a 29-22 hole.
"Me coming up short the past two times I’ve been here, that was the biggest chip on my shoulder," Johnson said. "We knew every team was going to end their season with a loss except one, and we didn’t want that to be us again."
Defense fueled the comeback, but it might have left the tank dry for the stretch run.
Stewart's steal and layup brought SC within two points. An offensive rebound after another theft by Stewart led to two tying free throws.
Lorenzo Williams' third-chance basket retrieved the lead for the Cards, and his steal produced another put-back and a 33-29 lead at quarter's end.
Johnson's turn-around, fade-away jumper from the baseline christened the fourth quarter and set Trinity's finishing flurry in motion.
"You’re not winning a state championship with one guy. You’re winning with a complete team, and that’s what we have, whether they played a second or not," Szabo said. "You know when you play Scott County, you’d better be ready, because they are."
Trinity also defeated Scott County, 71-53, in the 2012 final. SC lost to Covington Catholic by a similar margin, 73-55, last year.
The Cardinals won last year's first-round Sweet 16 battle on a late 3-pointer by Cooper Robb, and won 56-53 on Jan. 5 this season thanks to 25 points from Stewart.
"This is exactly what we wanted," Turnier said. "Some of the other guys wanted Scott County to lose (earlier in the tournament). Not David and me. We wanted our revenge for last year and this year."
SC's seven seniors -- Moreno, Long, Williams, Stewart, Covington, Kobi Harris and Cam Fluker -- leave a legacy that includes a record of 132-18, four 1,000-point scorers, three region titles, two district titles and two appearances in the KHSAA title game.
Hicks confided in veteran sportswriter Mike Fields before leaving the floor that Sunday was his final game.
In two other post-game huddles, the coach left that door slightly ajar, saying there was a "99 percent chance" he is finished coaching.
"I’ll make that decision on down the road. I’ll have a fishing pole in my hand," Hicks said. "I’ll decide that at a different time and everything. I’m 66, be 67 in August. It’s been a good ride. I don’t know. It very well could be."
Hicks, who would depart as Kentucky's all-time leader with 1,013 victories, deflected talk of his retirement by praising his players.
"What they’ve accomplished has been unbelievable. This game had no bearing on that, win or lose," he said. "I felt like it was an honor to coach them, and a privilege."