Trojans rally past Plymouth

PLYMOUTH — After leading throughout its first two games of the season, Triton head coach Adam Heckaman was anxious to see how his young group would respond when down.
After falling behind 21-8 in the opening 12 and a half minutes at Plymouth, respond the Trojans did, going on a 15-0 second quarter-ending run to go up 23-21 at the half. They stretched that lead to 32-26 in the third frame and held on for the narrow 39-37 victory over the host Lady Pilgrims at The Rock Thursday.
“We got down 21-8, stacked against us there, and I was anxious to see how we would respond in a game where we didn’t have a lead,” said Heckaman. “We had a lead the first two games. I told the girls in that time out, ‘This is going to show what we’re made of,’ and they came out of that time out, Shana (Anderson) took over there, gave us some big buckets, and we picked up the defensive intensity and caused some turnovers. We finished that half on a 15-0 run and took the lead there. That says a lot about these girls. They’re competitors, they’re fighters, all eight of them, and they’re going to go out and take a team’s best shot and take a shot right back.”
After the team’s first time out, Triton’s defense made the difference.
The Trojans (3-0) got out in the passing lanes to force eight Plymouth turnovers for 13 points — the Lady Pilgrims finished with 19 turnovers at the contest — during Triton’s 15-0 lead-changing run. Plymouth (1-1) was able to solve some of its ball handling woes during the third quarter, but besides junior guard Lauren Tanner’s 3 at the 5:33 mark, the Pilgrims were held to a stagnant 1-for-9 conversion rate from the field in the frame. Triton ran out the period on a 7-0 tear highlighted by a pair of triples from freshman guard Kylie Mason — who co-led her team with 11 points — to take its biggest lead of the night, 32-26, going into the final quarter.
“We just gave them a little run there going into halftime, which to me, honestly, was the difference in the game,” said Plymouth head coach Dave Cox. “I was hoping it wouldn’t be, but what’d they go on, a 13-, 14-point run, and if you can come out of that with a six- or eight-point lead you would have had a little different third quarter, you might have been able to stay in the lead, but the kids just didn’t get the job done in that stretch.”
Plymouth converted some of its own revamped defensive effort into points as the Pilgrims opened the final stanza with five steals for a 6-2 run capped off by a drive and pull-up jumper from the lane by freshman Haley Harrell, pulling within two points at 34-32 with 1:52 remaining in the game.
After Triton point guard Taylor Hatfield and Plymouth forward Amber Redinger traded pairs of free throws, the Trojans’ lone senior, forward Megan Howdeshell converted on a traditional 3-point play off a pass into the post from Breanna Lemler to give Triton a little breathing room at 39-34 with 39.4 seconds to go. Tanner — who led all scorers with 12 points, all from beyond the arc — buried her final bucket of the night off a Harrell swing pass to cut Triton’s lead back to two at 39-37 with 22 seconds on the game clock, but Howdeshell’s steal on Plymouth’s final possession of the night with 12.2 seconds left effectively sealed the win as the Trojans played keep-away to wind down the clock and move to 3-0 on the young season.
“Megan stepped up big with that three-point play right there at the end, and we finished it on the defensive end,” said Heckaman. “I couldn’t be more proud of that, the fact that we finished the game on the defensive end. She steps in and gets a big steal. I think we took care of the ball better than them tonight; I think we had a few less turnovers, which was real big.”
“Adam does a nice job. That’s a really nice group of young kids that they’ve got,” said Cox. “They’re going to have a lot of fun. I just applaud them. They’ve done a really good job. I don’t like losses at all, but it was certainly a game that we probably learned something about ourselves.”
Plymouth, which slipped to an even 1-1 on the year, was led offensively a second straight game by Tanner, who finished with three steals and three assists in addition to her 12 points. The Pilgrims also saw production from freshman point guard Harrell, who passed out a game-high five assists while putting up seven points, as well as sophomore reserve guard Brittany Gantz, who finished with seven points, all earned during a 1:16-minute spurt early in the second as Plymouth grabbed its largest lead of the night 21-8.
The Pilgrims now enter a two-game stretch of road games at Valparaiso Saturday and Bremen next Tuesday before returning home to face Tippecanoe Valley Dec. 1.
“You get those guys through Valpo and then Bremen and a couple other games, they’ll be a different-looking group of kids in December, I think,” Cox said. “Our schedule doesn’t get any easier, but we’ll grow up today and then Saturday night we’ll grow up a lot.”
“I think we’ve got to push our improvement curve a little harder than maybe they’re going to be comfortable doing, but we’ll do it anyway,” he added.
Triton was led in scoring for the third time in three games by junior Shana Anderson, who finished with 11 points, along with freshman Mason. Sophomore point guard Taylor Hatfield finished with four assists, seven points and two steals.
The team moves to 3-0 on the year with its second victory this week and returns home tonight to face potential Sectional 51 foe South Central.
“We talked to the girls in the locker room about ‘Feel good tonight, but we play again tomorrow night,’” said Heckaman. “So we’ve got to come back ready to play, and I’ll be anxious to see how we can respond after a win like this. This is big, this is a big win for us, but we’ve got to be able to turn around and come back tomorrow night and get another one.”
At Plymouth
Score by quarters
Triton: 4 23 32 39
Plymouth: 9 21 26 37
TRITON (39): Kaelyn Mason 0 0-0 0, Taylor Hatfield 2 3-5 7, Breanna Lemler 2 0-0 4, Krystal Sellers 0 0-0 0, Kylie Mason 4 0-0 11, Mallorie Jennings 0 0-0 0, Shana Anderson 5 0-0 11, Megan Howdeshell 2 2-4 6; Totals: 15 5-9 39
PLYMOUTH (37): Lauren Tanner 4 0-0 12, Brittany Gantz 3 0-0 7, Marissa German 0 2-2 2, Haley Harrell 3 0-0 7, Brittany Himes 0 1-2 1, Amber Redinger 0 4-8 4, Hunter Stevens 2 0-0 4, Allie Wright 0 0-0 0; Totals: 12 7-12 37
3-pointers: Triton 4 (Kylie Mason 3, Anderson 1), Plymouth 6 (Tanner 4, Gantz 1, Harrell 1); Turnovers: Triton 15, Plymouth 19; Rebounds: Triton 28 (Howdeshell 10), Plymouth 31 (Redinger 11); Steals: Triton 13 (Kylie Mason 5), Plymouth 7 (Tanner 3, Redinger 3); Assists: Triton 10 (Hatfield 4), Plymouth 10 (Harrell 5); Fouls (fouled out): Triton 10 (none), Plymouth 12 (none).
Records: Triton 3-0, Plymouth 1-1
JV score: Plymouth 33, Triton 8