After being a successful GISA program in recent years, Trinity Christian School made the move to the GHSA following the 2017-18 season. They made the playoffs in 2018-19, but rose their level of performance significantly in 2019-20, reaching the Final 4 in A-Private and nearly defeating Greenforest. TCS might not be a school or basketball program that many are well-acquainted with, but they have quality players and quality people within their program. Coach Will De La Cruz has high standards for his team and does a great job of injecting his players with energy and positivity. He wants to continue building on from this season’s success and provided us with details on TCS as a whole, its basketball program, and how his Dominican roots have impacted the Lion team.
2017-18 Record: 28-7 (AAA GISA Final 4)
2018-19 Record: 11-15 (A-Private GHSA 1st Round)
2019-20 Record: 20-11 (A-Private GHSA Final 4)
You’re in a unique situation being at a A-Private school that’s south of Atlanta- Give some insight on Trinity Christian and what the TCS basketball program is about. Are there are challenges you face? How about any advantages or aspects that enjoy about the school & basketball program?
“We are unique in that we are a small private school south of Atlanta. This was our second year in GHSA and our program is about excellence. We are not trying to be perfect because that’s impossible. We want to be excellent in everything that we do. One of my favorite bible verses and one that our program is built on is Colossians 4:23, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.”
“We face a lot of challenges, we’re a private school and we have a small population which means most of our sports programs share athletes. We don’t have multiple feeder schools we only have our elementary school. Our challenge is also what makes our school special. All of our programs are about being excellent for Christ and helping our kids understand that God is in everything that we do. And as a village, all of our programs help our kids grow in a way that would be difficult in other places. Our basketball program is one of the best on our side of town and we compete with the best in the city and wherever the best teams and programs are located.”
You guys won 20 games this season, made the Final 4, and nearly beat Greenforest without one of your best players- Reflect on the season and how you think it went overall; What do you think you guys did well this year? Did you improve on anything as the season went on that helped you make that playoff run without Giancarlo?
“I would say that I’m not surprised of how far we’ve made it and of how good this group was. It’s what myself and our coaching staff expected. We had a competitive group of boys who loved playing with one another and who overcame a lot of adversity throughout the year. Playing without Giancarlo was tough, because he was a 20 and 10 type of player and he helped tremendously on the defensive end. When he was healthy we had multiple matchup problems for opposing teams. Injuries are part of the sport and our team battle though all of that and had an amazing year. One of the things that we did well was defend as a unit. We were able to make it very difficult to get easy baskets. We shared the ball really well and had guys willing to sacrifice a lot of personal success for the greater good of the team, and that made this group special.”
“As the season went on we figured out who we were and played more to our strengths. We were able to fine tune our defense and to learn patience on offense throughout the season which helped us when Giancarlo got hurt.”
Your team had a strong Dominican presence this year and you’ve had others from there in years past- Talk about that connection and why you think those Dominican natives benefit from coming here and being part of your program.
“I am from the Dominican Republic and I understand the struggles that kids go through there. I’m in a position where I can help some and so with their parents sacrifice and trust we have been able to help kids from there get an education and live out a dream that many have and few get the opportunity to live out. My coaching staff and I been able to help our guys from there transition to the US style of play. They come from a different style of play and I know what that style is and we have been able to merge the two and help them succeed here as basketball players. More importantly, they are able to come and live in Christian homes as host students with a full family unit (mom and dad) in a stable home and that has helped them in their walk with God and in their growth as young men. The basketball is just the icing on the cake.”
You’re going to be losing some important seniors in the 2020 class; What do you think needs to be done next year in order to negate some of the impact from that so you guys can have another successful season?
“We are losing some very important pieces, we have a couple of young guys that played 9th grade and JV that have shown promised and we also have a good returning core that was able to experience a lot of success this past season. The work is the same, and we just have to continue doing those things and the rest will take care of it self. I think every season that I have been at Trinity we’ve lost 5 or 6 key guys and every year we have continued to get better. We always seem to attract a couple of local kids and that has helped over the years. And with transferring as it is in today’s game we lose some and gain some. Those are areas that we don’t have any control so we focus on what we have and what we need to do with the group that we have.”