ROSWELL, Ga. — Defending Region 7-AAAA champions Blessed Trinity will look to preserve their crown beginning this Saturday as the Titans tip off their region schedule. They will do so on a hot streak, while the team continues to return injured players.
The Titans have had to deal with injuries to standout guard CJ Abrams, backup point guard Reid Gonzalez and Joe Boudreau, as well as filling the roles of three starters from last year’s region title team lost to graduation.
Head coach Patrick Hughes said it has been an “interesting” start to the season. He said he’s pleased with his team’s play of late, winning six of their last seven matches.
“It’s good for the kids, wins give positive reinforcement,” Hughes said. “Their confidence gets built with victories, and you always want to be hot entering region games.”
With just eight games on their region schedule, Hughes said every game is crucial and all will be a challenge. The Titans also have the added test of being the defending region champs.
“We know we are going to get everyone’s best,” Hughes said. “I have told the guys we need to practice not like we are the region champs, but that we are trying to defend that title. We need to continue to work hard and we have a good shot, but I’m sure the other four teams think that, too.”
BT’s current streak includes wins over perennial playoff contenders in higher classes, including Hillgrove, North Cobb, Centennial and Alpharetta. Playing such high-caliber opponents will prove beneficial during region play, Hughes said.
“I’m a big believer in challenging non-region games,” he said. “We want to play teams with different styles. That way, in region play, and the state playoffs if we reach them, it won’t be the first time we’ve seen those schemes.”
BT will rely on standouts Ben Shappard and CJ Abrams to lead their region title defense. Shappard is averaging 14 points per game and six rebounds.
“[Shappard] has been incredibly consistent and is a leader not only statistically but in effort on the court,” Hughes said. “And Abrams is often athletically the best player on the court.”
Though Shappard and Abrams should have significant contributions to the Titans’ success, injuries to the team have created more depth.
Jax Bouknight, Will Marin and Andy Swade have had more significant roles due to injury.
“Lots of guys have stepped up and contributed,” Hughes said.
The Titans are also building upon last year’s implementation of a traditional man defense which was crucial in their region run. That has allowed BT to add intricacies that Hughes said should add to the team’s dynamic.
But the team will need to focus on playing consistent for four quarters against 7-4A opponents.
“We’ve looked good for a quarter but then not very strong the next three in some games,” Hughes said. “We played great against Hillgrove but turned around and played River Ridge a little flat.”
The Titans begin their region schedule Friday on the road against West Hall. The Titans went 3-0 against the Spartans last year.