Trojans use pesky defense to rally past Bruins, 38-32

BOURBON — Triton’s best offense was a good defense Monday night.
The Lady Trojans used the press to generate some fast break offense in the second half, rallying past visiting Bethany Christian for a 38-32 victory at home at the Trojan Trench.
With the Trojans’ shots not falling in the first half, the Bruins finished off the second quarter on a 4-0 mini run and led 17-14 at the intermission. Triton (5-0) used its fullcourt trap to good effect after the break, however, and the home team also picked up the pace in its 1-3-1 halfcourt defense to pester Bethany (2-4) into 14 turnovers for 13 points off turnovers — most of them in transition — in the second half, moving to 5-0 on the season in the process.
“We forced them into some things they didn’t want to do and we were able to get those turnovers and that led to our offense,” said Triton Head Coach Adam Heckaman. “Most of our offense tonight was those transition points, fast break-type points because we were struggling in our halfcourt. We weren’t making some shots we usually make, and we had to pick up our defense in order to win.”
Late in the third quarter, five Bethany turnovers translated into an 11-2 run touched off by a long transition jumper from Kylie Mason after fellow freshman guard Krystal Sellers drew a charge in the paint under the Bruins bucket, and the Trojans took their first lead of the second half, 25-23, at the 1:48 mark of the frame.
A layup by 6-foot Bruins forward Hanna Hochstetler knotted the game back up at 25-25 at the end of the period, but Mason sparked a 7-0 Trojans run with a pull-up outside the lane following another turnover by the visitors at the start of the final frame. Junior guard/ forward Shana Anderson grabbed a steal at the top of the Trojans’ 1-3-1 for a transition layup, another Anderson pick led to a free throw from Triton sophomore point guard Taylor Hatfield, and senior forward Megan Howdeshell came down with a big offensive rebound for a putback to give Triton its biggest lead of the half, 32-25, with 4:57 remaining in the game.
Bethany big Natalie Thorne responded with a putback of her own on the opposite end, however, and her outlet pass to Bruins guard Gina Gautsche turned into a fastbreak layup and traditional 3-point play to cut the lead back to a tentative 32-30 with 2:41 to go.
The two teams traded buckets before a blocked shot by Howdeshell turned into a Triton team defensive rebound, and Anderson and Hatfield buried a pair of 1-and-1s in the final half-minute to give the Trojans the home win.
Anderson’s stats were representative of her team’s reliance on defense to generate offense Monday as she parlayed five steals and a deflection into game-highs of 16 points and four assists. The junior combo player also finished with three blocked shots in the victory.
“With Shana out there, she’s got a lot of length, and she can cause some problems,” said Heckaman. “We just didn’t get after it enough in the first half to cause them problems, and she just picked that up in the second half and everybody around her picked it up, too, getting in the right spots to pick off the passes, collapsing when they got it to the post.”
Bethany was led by eight points from Gautsche and fellow guard Melaina Weldy as well as forward Hochstetler. Thorne led off the glass with 16 rebounds and another game-high four blocks in the loss, which drops the Bruins to 2-4 on the year.
Triton stays unbeaten at 5-0 with its second-closest win of the year — two games after a narrow 39-37 win at Plymouth Nov. 17 — and will open its Northern State Conference schedule at Knox Saturday with a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.
“It was a win. That’s what I told them after the game. It wasn’t pretty. We did what we needed to do defensively to finish it out, but we’ve got to go to work the next few days to get ready for a big stretch of games for us,” said Heckaman.
At Bourbon
Triton: 9 14 25 38
Bethany: 7 17 25 32
TRITON (38): Kaelyn Mason 1 0-0 2, Taylor Hatfield 0 3-4 3, Breanna Lemler 0 0-0 0, Krystal Sellers 0 0-0 0, Kylie Mason 2 0-1 4, Mallorie Jennings 4 0-0 8, Shana Anderson 6 2-2 16, Megan Howdeshell 2 1-2 5; Totals: 15 6-9 38.
BETHANY (32): Gina Gautsche 3 2-3 8, Marie Bontrager 0 0-0 0, Malaina Weldy 4 0-0 8, Alena Yoder 0 0-0 0, Laken Richer 2 0-0 4, Natalie Thorne 2 0-1 4, Hanna Hochstetler 4 0-2 8; Totals: 15 2-6 32.
3-pointers: Triton 2 (Anderson 2); Turnovers: Bethany 27, Triton 9; Rebounding: Triton 26 (Hatfield 6), Bethany 42 (Thorne 16); Assists: Bethany 11(Weldy 3), Triton 10 (Anderson 4); Steals: Bethany 4 (Gautsche 1, Weldy 1, Thorne 1, Hochstetler 1), Triton 17 (Anderson 5); Blocks: Bethany 6 (Thorne 4), Triton 6 (Anderson 3).
Records: Triton 5-0, Bethany 2-4
JV score: Triton 22 (Hannah Jennings 14), Bethany 9.