No. 10 Triton escapes Rochester

BOURBON — Shana Anderson made her return for Triton Wednesday, and just in the nick of time for the Lady Trojans.
The senior swing player completed a five-game suspension in the first quarter, returning to the floor in the second quarter, but after such a long layover it took her awhile to shake off the rust.
Anderson put up all eight of her points in the fourth quarter as Rochester made a furious second-half push, and with her team leading by a tentative two-point margin with three seconds left to play, she capped off a five-steal performance with a pick at the halfcourt, breaking away for a game-sealing layup at the final buzzer that put the exclamation point on a 52-48 Triton escape of the visiting Lady Zebras.
“She struggled. When you don’t play for five games you’re going to come out that way, I suppose, and she did,” said Triton girls basketball coach Adam Heckaman. “I think it was a little bit of nerves, too. She wanted to get right back in there and pick up where she left off. She wasn’t quite able to, but I just told her in that timeout — I told all the kids — it’s a possession-by-possession game, every game of basketball is. You’ve got to forget about the last one and move on. And I thought she finally realized that’s what she has to do.
“She got the stops she needed to defensively, got the layups she wanted on the other end and kind of got rolling a little bit.”
While Anderson put the final nail in Rochester’s coffin, junior guard Taylor Hatfield was steady for the Class A No. 10 Trojans all night, slashing her way to the basket for a game-high 21 points on 6-of-9 field shooting and 8-for-10 free throws.
Hatfield’s old-fashioned three-point play marked the game’s final lead change with under a minute on the game clock, and her calm conversion of a pair of free throws following a Rochester timeout with 6.9 seconds remaining put the Trojans ahead, 50-48.
“We got Taylor going to the basket there at the end like we wanted to,” said Heckaman. “They bumped her, we got the foul, and she knocked down those free throws. That was big for us. Then they knew what we needed to do after the free throws. We got the stop defensively, and we got the victory.”
“They were a little bit more veteran than we were at the end, and that made a big difference,” said Rochester coach Tony Stesiak. “They have a player in Hatfield, she and Anderson at the end kind of willed their team to victory. Put them on their backs and said ‘We’re not going to lose this game.’ We don’t have anybody quite like that yet, although we have a couple freshmen that were making some big steps that way, too.”
Triton used a 1-3-1 halfcourt trap to good effect, forcing 24 Rochester turnovers for 16 points at the game.
The Lady Trojans led by double digits early in the second quarter and still clung to a 23-18 halftime advantage as Rochester switched to a more guard-heavy lineup to counter the home team’s defensive pressure.
The Zebras crashed the boards in the second half, pulling down six offensive rebounds for 10 second-chance points — including six by junior forward Breanne Paulik, who finished with a team-high 11 points and 11 rebounds after being held to just three points in the first half.
The visitors grabbed just their second lead of the night with a 10-2 second half-opening run capped off by Paulik’s putback at the 5:13 stop of the third period, and the two teams swapped leads nine times after that with Rochester taking its last lead on a Keaton Stesiak one-and-one with 1:05 on the clock.
“Their lineup dictated that it was a guard game so we had to go to our guard lineup. That was a nice switch,” said Tony Stesiak. “I thought we battled and hung in there; I thought our best players were freshmen tonight. To be down seven at one point late and to rally and claw back into it was good.”
“That was a game of runs — we went on a run, they went on a run,” Heckaman said. “They ended up going on a run and taking the lead there in the fourth, and I thought our kids really battled back well and adjusted to that. We didn’t let it shake us.”
Along with Paulik’s double-double, freshmen Stesiak and Alexa Holland finished with nine points each Wednesday as Rochester slid to 4-5 with its third straight loss.
Kylie Mason scored 11 for Triton and passed out four assists in the win, which represented Triton’s fifth straight and pushed the Trojans to 8-2 on the year.
Triton plays host to Warsaw next Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re worried about the next one. What’s happened has happened. We can’t change anything or do anything different,” said Heckaman. “We’re just going to move onto the next one. With that being Warsaw, that’s obviously big. We’re going to come to practice and work hard. The girls are focused on just knocking them down one at a time and seeing what happens. We’ll get in here next Wednesday and get ready to play against a pretty good 4A team.”
At Bourbon
Score by quarters
Rochester: 8 18 28 48
Triton: 15 23 29 52
ROCHESTER (48): Rylee Holland 7, Keaton Stesiak 9, Kaelee Smith 5, Becky Malchow 0, Breanne Paulik 11, Alexa Holland 9, Lindsay Mitchell 0, Riley Pfeiffer 0, Raeann Hunter 0, Karli Murphy 7; Totals: 17 10-19 48.
TRITON (52): Allie Kann 0, Taylor Hatfield 21, Breanna Lemler 0, Krystal Sellers 7, Kylie Mason 11, Mallorie Jennings 4, Shana Anderson 8, Hannah Jennings 1; Totals: 19 11-23 52.
3-pointers: Rochester 4 (A. Holland 3, R. Holland 1), Triton 3 (Hatfield, Sellers, Mason); Rebounds: Rochester 36 (Paulik 11), Triton 26 (Anderson 9); Turnovers: Rochester 24, Triton 13; Steals: Rochester 4 (A. Holland 2), Triton 15 (Anderson 5); Assists: Rochester 9 (A. Holland 3, Murphy 3), Triton 9 (Mason 4); Fouls (fouled out): Rochester 18 (none), Triton 19 (none).
Records: Triton 8-2, Rochester 4-5
JV score: Rochester 39 (Gryphen Goss 10, Bailey Abbott 10), Triton 21 (Becca Kennedy 9)