Trent Holman and Trenton Hutchinson, now juniors on the Dirigo Boys basketball team, were nicknamed the “Splash Brothers” growing up because of their shooting abilities.
Now, the Cougars have mounted the backcourt duo defense this season until the Class C State Championship game against Dexter (16-5) Saturday at 7:45 p.m. at Augusta Civic Center.
“Me and Trenton have been goaltenders and been playing top since second year, so we’ve always had a duo in a way and always worked together, so we’ve built a good relationship on the pitch,” Holman said. “We work well with each other.”
Holman and Hutchinson, or “Hutch” as he is known among players and coaches, are two of seven juniors on this year’s Dirigo team, many of whom have been playing sports together since second or third year.
They have grown together and this season they have taken the next step. Dirigo’s coach, Cody St. Germain, said no one has made a bigger leap in the team than Holman.
“He’s improved a ton on everything,” St. Germain said. “Without exception, he is our most improved player on our team. We came into the season not expecting Trent to be our best defender of the season, but that part of his game and the athleticism he has acquired from last year to this year is one of the most big changes I’ve seen. He was a good attacking player moving the ball around, but his defensive changes were dramatic. He spent a lot of time in the gym and the weight room to improve.
Holman averaged three steals per game, to go along with his six points per game, five rebounds and five assists. The junior said he knows he’s not the greatest player on the court and needs to work in the offseason to help the team.
“I wasn’t always in the best shape,” Holman said. “This summer I’ve grown a lot and got in shape a lot which has helped me a lot. I’ve gone a lot faster and that’s helped me get a lot more flights. I’m fast towards the ball and my hands are active. I’ve also been much more conditioned, and that has helped me.
St. Germain said that on film, Holman doesn’t jump around as a “lockdown defender,” but enters the passing lanes, gets his hands on the ball and also catches interceptions. At just 5-foot-9, Holman won’t muscle his opponents, but he can outplay his opponent.
“Obviously being undersized he knows he has to work harder than you do, but at the same time he’s up there if not the smartest basketball player on our team,” St. Germain said of Holman. “He knows where the passes go and knows when to go. He is our glue guy and holds everything together for us. He tries to make the perfect play and on both sides of the ball he does a very good job with that… He has a very good talent for the ball, he tends to put his hands in the pass lanes a ton and is a really rambling guy. He’s not too strong but he just wants the ball more than the next one.
His backcourt teammate, Hutchinson, is Dirigo’s defender who is placed on the opposing team’s best offensive player. He is the defender of containment.
Hutchinson plays soccer and football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and finishes his school year on the baseball team. The four-sport athlete uses his athleticism on the basketball court to stop scoring threats and was a key contributor to Dirigo’s six-game winning streak.
“He’s one of the best three-sport, actually four-sport, athletes I’ve seen here,” St. Germain said. “He plays soccer and football. He is a phenomenal athlete. This is his third year starting basketball and from his first year he has been our best defender and has been for three years. Being a 5-foot-9 skinny kid isn’t easy to be the best defender. Usually they are 6ft 3in tall and can do it with their bodies. He just has this gift of wanting to silence his boyfriend. He’s the best defender I’ve seen in MVC this year. He’s always improving, but he’s always been good and it’s on the attacking side that he’s made his greatest progress.
The two guards are the spark plugs for much of Dirigo’s offense. The Cougars have averaged 59.9 points per game this season and St. Germain said a lot of the offense starts with the fast breaks that Hutchinson and Holman started stealing.
“I’ve really said all year that our team is going at the pace that Trent and Trenton have put us at,” St. Germain said. “We have good offensive talent, but I always felt that if Trent and Trenton played well, we played well as a team. It felt like it started defensively because if we knock the other team down and go out and run, that’s when we’re at our best. If we can start the fast break, that also tends to get our energy going.
Although Holman doesn’t score much, Hutchinson is capable of scoring in clusters, like when he scored 24 points in Dirigo C South’s quarter-final win over Carrabec. The Cougars also rely on Charlie Houghton, who is averaging 19 points per game this season.
“I think (our defense) even helps our offense a lot,” Holman said. “With me and Trenton leading in our 2-3 zone, we’re able to get ball advice and steals and we can set up our attack or have a quick break, where we get a lot of our points. .”
Holman and Hutchinson’s connection on the court is almost cerebral.
Years together on the same pitch have helped both players know where each other is.
“We communicate constantly and even sometimes we don’t even say anything, we just know what we’re going to do,” Holman said. “We’re still on the same page because we’ve been playing together for so long.”
“Communication is everything between us,” added Hutchinson. “We always know what we are going to do.
The two-guard game was a pleasant surprise for St. Germain and became the main focus of the coach’s game plans.
“The thing about Trent and Trenton is the defensive plays they’re making this year are kind of new to them, kind of, as a combo,” St. Germain said. “Last year, there was no part of me that said, ‘Man, that combo of Hutch and Holman is a key part of our team. Then after a few games they realized, “Man, we’re dominant here if we want to be.” Then they started to take it upon themselves without any discussion from me and said, “We can really take control of games with our defense.”
“We planned a lot around them to be able to get flights, and I think they really had fun with that and took that as one of the big things that they contribute to the success of our team. “
The Cougars players are thrilled to be together in the state title game.
“We’ve been playing together since second and third year and we’ve dreamed of this moment,” Holman said. “We were told growing up that we always had the potential and now it’s great to finally get our chance. It’s our first real chance and we’re having a lot of fun doing it.
St. Germain, a senior on Dirigo’s last state championship-winning team in 2012, said he was happy for this year’s squad to experience the States.
“We’ve had a few teams that have been through it, but it hasn’t happened in seven years, so I feel like it’s been a while. They’re experiencing what so many kids who came here lived,” St. Germain said. “A lot of guys are friends, brothers, cousins of kids who were on old teams. We were watching the 2015 game and you could see a lot of it in the stands, and it was pretty cool to see it come back on repeat. They’re super excited, the community is super excited and it’s cool to be a part of it.
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