Triton girls basketball preview

BOURBON — The Lady Trojans may be young, but that doesn’t mean they’re inexperienced.
The team lost five players to graduation, but junior guard/ forward Shana Anderson is back as the team’s leading scorer from last season’s sectional championship squad as is classmate Breanna Lemler, while sophomore Taylor Hatfield returns to the point after gaining some big game experience late last year. Incoming freshmen guards Kylie and Kaelyn Mason and Krystal Sellers may lack high school experience but bring league savvy to the team, while sophomore guard Mallorie Jennings logged lots of JV team last season.
Add to that the team’s lone senior in forward and all-around player Megan Howdeshell and a trio of newcomers ready to spell the team’s top eight in freshmen Hannah Jennings and Becca Kennedy and sophomore Allie Kann, and the Lady Trojans have the pieces in place to have another strong showing in 2011-12.
“Krystal, Kylie and Kaelyn played in a lot of leagues, put a lot of time in, and it shows out here so far,” said Triton head coach Adam Heckaman.
“Megan and Shana, they played a lot of varsity minutes last year, and they’ve really stepped into that leadership role. Then we bring in Taylor and Mallorie, they played a lot of JV minutes last year so they’ve got that experience there, and then just playing with those other girls in practice last year gave them a lot of experience.”
Last year’s team came on slowly, opening the year 7-9 before tearing off six straight wins and unseating four-peat Sectional 51 champion Oregon-Davis, ultimately falling to Class A powerhouse Fort Wayne Canterbury in the regional.
While the personnel may have changed, Triton seems to have carried over some of the momentum from last season’s strong finish. The Lady Trojans are off to a 3-0 start, most recently beating Plymouth on the road Thursday, the first such win for the program since the 2002-03 season.
“I can’t talk about who we have without mentioning what we lost,” said Heckaman. “We lost six seniors that did an outstanding job for us last year, and a lot of what we’ve been able to do this year is a result of their work ethic because they really put the time in last year and showed the young girls what it took to step up to that next level. “
It’s a work ethic the younger players seem to have embraced, and an uncoachable trait that has served the team well in the early going.
“This group, they bring it every night,” said Heckaman. “It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, doesn’t matter if it’s practice, they’re going to go hard. That’s one thing I can count on every night — that that effort is going to be there. Even when other things are failing they’re going to scrap and they’re going to battle and they’re going to outbound teams maybe they shouldn’t.”
But perhaps the team’s best strength is its depth.
While Anderson and Howdeshell are undoubtedly the leaders on the floor, Heckaman can feel comfortable pulling them out for stretches and rotating in any one of his top eight players, a fact that has helped the Trojans keep fresh legs as they try to push the pace up the floor this year.
“I think one of our strengths is we’ve got eight kids that can play,” said Heckaman. “We don’t really have much drop-off when we sub in and out. I’ve given Shana probably more breaks this year than I did last year. The kids that come in off the bench, probably any three of those kids could step into the starting lineup this year, and I think that’s a real strength of ours. We can rotate kids in and out, and we’re pretty fresh at the end of the game, and we’re able to get up and down.”