The underdog role fit Trinity just fine last season in one game.
Now the Hillers hope the underdog role fits them for an entire season.
Last year in Class AAA, after winning a WPIAL preliminary-round playoff game, Trinity surprised No. 4 Keystone Oaks in the first round of the playoffs. Keystone Oaks brought a 20-2 record into that game.
This season Trinity moved up to Class AAAA into Section 4, one of the toughest sections in the WPIAL.
The Hillers are now getting used to being underdogs just about every night ... at least for the time being.
Trinity looks right at home, however, playing alongside south suburban powers such as Bethel Park, Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair.
Through 13 games Trinity is 9-4 and 3-2 in section play.
"We are not taking an underdog mentality this season but most of the other schools feel that we are an underdog or that we have something to prove," first-year coach Stan Noszka said.
"Our kids are very confident in what we can do."
The Hillers gained more confidence in early-season tournaments at Canon-McMillan and in Orlando, Fla. They picked up wins against non-WPIAL competition such as Saltsburg, Blairsville, Jackson County (Ky.), Northwest Christian Academy (Fla.) and Elevation Academy (Fla.)
Upon returning home Trinity blasted Mt. Lebanon, 75-54, in its section opener and came back three days later to edge Peters Township, 53-51.
Playing in Class AAAA this year, Noszka knew there would be ups and downs. He saw that as the very next night after the Peters Township game when his team traveled to Upper St. Clair and lost, 52-42.
Noszka takes over this season for longtime coach Joe Dunn. If there was ever a season to move up to Class AAAA, this would be it. The Hillers returned all five starters from last year's team that went 14-11 and reached the WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinals.
It currently starts five seniors, including senior guard Christian Koroly who averaged 15.6 points per game last season. Koroly is one of four players to have led the team in scoring in a game this season.
"That is one of the strengths of our team," Noszka said. "We have at least four kids who are capable of scoring in double figures."
Koroly is the leading scorer on the team this season averaging about 16 points per game. Senior forward Corey Hunsberger, senior guard/forward Berton Miller and senior forward Jared Deep have also led the team in scoring at least one game this season.
In an admittedly off night for his team in the first round of its own holiday tournament, Hunsberger carried the team with a 24-point performance in a 68-59 win against Northgate on Dec. 27. Koroly (17), Miller (11) and Deep (10) also scored in double figures.
Trinity will not have a height advantage against most teams this year. Its tallest starter is Miller at 6 feet 3. Deep at 6-2 is usually tasked with guarding the opposition's tallest player.
Junior forward Avery King was a returning starter but was injured at the tournament in Florida and has been out for the past few weeks. In his place senior forward Steve Vorum and sophomore guard Nick Moretti have rotated in.
While its new section may be tough, it is nothing new to Trinity. Last year it played in a section with Montour and South Fayette. That experience, along with the momentum built from the big upset win against Keystone Oaks in the playoffs last year, has the Hillers off to a good start in this campaign.
"I think [the playoff win last year] was a springboard," Noszka said. "These kids have been playing together for quite some time. Winning against Keystone Oaks last year was a big deal for us and last year we played Montour and South Fayette. So we have played against some good teams."
Trinity returns to section action Friday at home against Bethel Park.hsbasketball