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Prep boys basketball: Storm watch

Trinity duo is perfect combination of aggressive and collected

Posted: March 1, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 1, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Trinity Classical Academy junior Spencer Klehn, left, and sophomore Ryan Brooks, right, bring contrasting styles to the court - a formula that has helped the Knights get to Saturday's CIF-SS Division VI title game. .

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He’s the storm.

Aggressive, direct and unforgiving.

There’s no secret what Trinity Classical Academy junior Spencer Klehn is going to do on the basketball court.

Like a tornado destined to touch down, the only question is where and when he will strike.

But with every storm comes something else.

A calm, quiet moment in the midst of the chaos.

The eye of Trinity’s storm is sophomore Ryan Brooks.

“Spencer is the one who jumps first, starts to warm up and tells everyone to get down here,” says Trinity head coach John Brooks. “He’s more of the military commander. You see it his energy, it’s contagious. Ryan’s the calming influence. It makes the team feel like ‘We got this. We’re going to be OK.’ It’s our whole success. This is why we can do this with a bunch of young guys. Because of that (combination).”

Together these two have created a dynamic identity for the Knights.

And it’s that identity that has led them to the brink of a CIF-Southern Section Division VI title.

The Knights will play Rio Hondo Prep in the championship game of CIF-SS Division VI on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana.

They got there with the perfect combination of intensity and tranquility.

It was Klehn who simply outhustled everyone on the court in the closing minutes of the Knights’ semifinal victory over Joshua Springs — pulling down offensive rebounds, finding open teammates and coming up with huge baskets.

“It seemed like every time we needed something, he did what he had to do and just kept the crowd going and it pumped me up a lot,” Ryan Brooks says of Klehn. “He got big rebounds too, along with points.”

But it was Brooks who provided the most underrated and important game-changer of the night.

With both teams pressing, a trip to the finals in site, one Knight knew his team needed to rein things in.

So Brooks took control. Slowing things down, keeping his team composed and, ultimately, leading it to victory.

“When Joshua Springs started to press us, their front three guys were pretty crazy and they were trying to jump every pass,” Klehn says. “A lot of the times Ryan would cut to the middle and when the ball got to him everything slowed down a bit and opened up the lane and he made smart decisions.”

For a pair of kids who both came so close to a CIF-SS finals appearance on Trinity’s football team in the fall — the Knights fell 46-28 in the CIF-SS 8-man Division II semifinals to Joshua Springs — the moment meant even more.

The basketball program becomes the first team in Trinity’s history to make it this far.

“I always thought the football team would go all the way,” Ryan says. “I had people tell me they never thought basketball would go.”

But now it will, and the Knights are ready to give Rio Hondo Prep the fight of its season.

The Rio Hondo Prep Kares, the No. 1 seed in Division VI, enter Saturday’s contest with a 20-7 record after finishing second in the Prep League.

The Kares are led by senior center/forward Ryan Wiley, who averages 22 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.

Rio Hondo Prep defeated Desert Chapel 78-74 in the semifinals.

“It’s going to be a high-energy game and I think our team is definitely going to come out firing and going after every loose ball,” Klehn says.

For Klehn and Brooks, the moment has been a long time coming.

The duo has been playing basketball together nearly every year since Klehn was in fourth grade and Brooks was in third.

They’ve grown up together, with Klehn first attending Trinity, formerly known as Northpark Christian Academy, in kindergarten and Brooks since first grade.

Saturday night is the culmination of the work the two have put in side by side.

But it’s something else, too.

It’s a precursor.

A sign that the future is bright at Trinity.

Klehn and Brooks oddly represent the “elder guard” of the Knights’ basketball team. A team that features seven freshmen.

The Knights’ roster has four sophomores, with Klehn the lone junior and Chris Buchanan the lone senior.

“This isn’t the culmination I think,” Klehn says. “We’re seeing the potential. We’re finally seeing the potential we knew from so long ago — and we have a lot of room to grow.”

Their next opportunity is Saturday morning — and while no one knows who will walk out of the gymnasium the victor, one thing is certain — there’s a storm coming, and the Knights intend to keep Rio Hondo Prep from weathering it.

 

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