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Bradley Eugene is really Holy Trinity's most valuable player

Bradley Eugene of Holy Trinity drives to the

Bradley Eugene of Holy Trinity drives to the hoop during the CHSAA Class A State Final Championship game against Xavier on Saturday, March 15, 2014. Credit: Errol Anderson

Bradley Eugene, who barely played last year, was the one cradling Holy Trinity's state championship plaque and posing for photos Saturday, long after all of his teammates had left for the locker room.

The senior, who comes off the bench and at 6-2 plays center for a team that starts five guards, wanted to spend a few extra moments taking it all in.

"Coach just gave [the plaque] to me and said I deserved it," Eugene said. "I always have the mind-set that, no matter what, when I enter the game, my job is to bring energy, bring toughness and just help my team in any way."

Eugene scored 10 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as Holy Trinity claimed its first state CHSAA title since 1980, defeating Xavier, 61-39, in Class A at Fordham University.

Though he's been counted on since emerging earlier this season to deliver defensively and is typically the first guy to enter the game off the bench, teammates say Eugene's worth extends off the court, too. During pregame introductions, for example, Eugene is the one chest bumping and high-fiving his starting teammates as they're announced.

"He means a lot," said Jimmy Golaszewski, who leads the Titans in scoring. "He's a captain because we all voted for him. I think it was unanimous. He brings a lot of energy and he's a great leader. I love him."

On the court, Eugene, by crashing the boards, using fouls wisely and altering tough shots, was a big reason why Xavier was held to only 20 percent from the field.

"I'm so proud of him," coach Joe Conefry said. "He didn't play much for us last year at all and he got so much better his junior year without seeing much court time. He's just a win-first kind of guy that will do whatever it takes."

That's why it came as little surprise that when Eugene was asked about his individual growth as a player, he immediately shifted the focus back on his team.

"This means our team is special," said Eugene while he held and gazed at the plaque, "and it shows that we can fight through adversity."

The same could be said about him.

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