Trinity coach Blake Smith has been preaching mental and physical toughness to his Wildcats and he saw it pay off on Friday as Trinity won its area opener with Montgomery Academy 53-40 at Captain Jack Court.

“Three years ago, we couldn’t physically compete with teams like (MA),” said Smith. “But we’ve worked hard in the weight room, hard on our mentality, and we’re starting to turn a corner on that.”

The win lifted Trinity (17-2) into a first-place tie with Prattville Christian Academy at 1-0 in 3A Area 6 heading into Tuesday’s battle between the two teams in Prattville. Montgomery Academy and Catholic, who play each other on Tuesday as well, fell to 0-1 in area play.

For the Lady Wildcats, freshman Maddie Smith led the scoring with 15 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and five steals. Junior Addison Cherry scored 11 points along with six rebounds. Junior Emma Kate Smith scored 10 points along with four rebounds and three steals. Freshman Mya Moskowitz scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds and senior Mary Alice Sasser scored six points and had five steals.

For the Eagles, Hayes Jenkins led the scoring with 15 points, followed by Chloe Johnson with 13 points and Virginia Meachum with nine points.

Both teams played very physically and the game was tight until the Lady Wildcats were able to use their high-energy offense to pull away late in the third quarter and early in the fourth.

“This win really means a lot, and I think we started out a little bit slow and nervous, but we got it going,” Smith said. “Our offense started to create some space that we could feel comfortable in on the court.”

The Wildcats outscored the Eagles by 11 points in the third quarter to pull away from a 21-20 halftime lead. Montgomery Academy maintained the pace over the final quarter but couldn’t close the gap with Trinity.