BOURBON — Triton’s girls basketball team looked every bit of its Class A No. 7 preseason ranking Friday.
Spurred by a turnover-creating defense that facilitated an effective transition offense, the Trojans rattled off 10 unanswered points in the initial frame and scored 11 straight to finish the first half in a 61-44 season-opening win over North Judson-San Pierre at The Trojan Trench.
“We played really well for 2 1/2 quarters,” Triton head coach Adam Heckaman said. “I’m really happy with the way we started. We came out with a lot of intensity. We still have a lot of things to work on, but this was a very good first game.
“We pushed the ball well,” he added. “We got out on them and used our quickness, and in the first half, we pushed the ball under control. We lacked that focus in the second half. It’s just something we’ll have to clean up.”
Senior forward Shana Anderson paced three Trojans in double figures with a game-high 18 points to go along with seven rebounds and three steals. Anderson’s rebound bucket with 6:21 left in the first frame opened Triton’s key 10-0 spurt. Her trey from the left corner with 4:55 to play in the first half handed the Trojans a 28-20 advantage and kicked off the half-ending run.
Sophomore guard Kylie Mason added 16 points and five assists for Triton, while junior Taylor Hatfield chipped in eight of her 12 points in the second half, including a pair of free throws late in the third stanza that gave Triton its biggest surplus of the night — 28 points — at 53-25.
“All three of those girls can score,” Heckaman said. “Night in, night out we should put points on the board. We’re a well-balanced team. We have a solid six, and then Allie Kann came off the bench and did a nice job.”
Defensively, the Trojans’ 1-2-2 full-court press and swarming 1-3-1 half-court trap combined to force 33 turnovers and provided abundant opportunities to run. In fact, Triton forced 19 first-half miscues and allowed the Bluejays just 18 field-goal attempts during the same span en route to a comfortable 36-20 halftime cushion.
“We don’t have a lot of size so we had to pressure them to try to give ourselves a chance to run,” Heckaman said. “We had lots of tips, picked off passes, and things started to roll. When you can get offense off your defense the basket looks bigger.”
Also for Triton, Krystal Sellers chipped in eight points, three assists, and three steals in a solid all-around effort off the bench, and senior forward Breanna Lemler collected three steals.
Jordann Frasure led the Bluejays with 16 points and six rebounds. Kayla Zimmerman chipped in nine of her 12 points in the fourth frame and also ripped down seven rebounds. However, North Judson discovered no answer for the Trojans’ pressure defense.
“That was ugly,” North Judson head coach Deb Bolen said. “Our kids, quite frankly, we told them they looked like they had tunnel vision; they couldn’t see our offense through the defense. We forced passes, threw passes when there wasn’t anybody there. We knew what they were going to do, we just didn’t execute.
“We spent a lot of time with the ball on top of our heads,” she added. “We didn’t reverse the ball. We tried to dribble through the traps. We started to figure it out at the last of the third quarter, but we had way too many turnovers.”
Triton heads to Class A No. 10 Argos Tuesday for a battle of state-ranked teams.
• TRITON 61,
NORTH JUDSON-SAN PIERRE 44
Score by quarters
NJSP: 11 20 26 44
Triton: 18 36 53 61
NJSP (44): Lexi Messer 1 0-0 3, Haley Frasure 0 0-0 0, Megan Block 0 0-1 0, Kayla Zimmerman 3 4-5 12, Danielle Sallee 2 1-2 5, Mackenzie Brandt 1 0-2 2, Jordann Frasure 5 5-8 16, Darian Stalbaum 1 2-4 4, Amanda Ross 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 14 12-22 44.
TRITON (61): Allie Kann 1 1-1 3, Taylor Hatfield 3 6-6 12, Breanna Lemler 0 2-2 2, Krystal Sellers 2 3-4 8, Becca Kennedy 0 0-0 0, Kylie Mason 7 0-0 16, Mallorie Jennings 1 0-0 2, Shana Anderson 8 0-0 18, Hannah Jennings 0 0-1 0. TOTALS: 22 12-13 61.
3-point goals: NJSP 4 (Zimmerman 2, Messer, J. Frasure), Triton 5 (Mason 2, Anderson 2, Sellers); Turnovers: NJSP 33, Triton 16; Rebounds: NJSP 34 (Zimmerman 7), Triton 29 (Anderson 7); Assists: NJSP 9 (H. Frasure 4), Triton 13 (Mason 5); Steals: NJSP 4, Triton 15 (Lemler, Sellers, Anderson 3); Fouls (fouled out): NJSP 14 (none), Triton 22 (Hatfield); Records: NJSP 0-1, Triton 1-0.
JV score: NJSP 28 (Amanda Rose 8), Triton 22 (Autumn Kann 5).