BOURBON — Triton girls basketball head coach Adam Heckaman needed all of 30 seconds to set his team straight Saturday.
Class A No. 9 Triton fired off 12 unanswered points — seven off Knox turnovers — out of a 30-second timeout with 4:44 left in the first frame and ran away with a 69-38 Northern State Conference win at The Trojan Trench.
After trailing 7-6 at the stoppage, the Trojans’ 1-3-1 zone trap inflicted a turnover epidemic, forcing 17 for the first half, while the offense converted 16-of-24 chances from the field before halftime.
“I just said, ‘You guys are not playing defense with intensity,” Heckaman said of the timeout. “I thought we could get any shot we wanted; that’s not anything against (Knox’s) defense, we’re just quicker. Once we picked it up on the defensive end, we got even easier shots.”
Triton junior guard Taylor Hatfield gunned in a game-high 24 points, including a pair of treys in the final 37 seconds of the first half as the Trojans built a 40-20 halftime advantage.
Sophomore guard Kylie Mason scored all 13 of her points in the first half, highlighted by a trio of triples, two of those during the Trojans’ game-altering first-quarter run. She also nabbed a game-best three steals.
“We ran 1-3-1, box-and-one, man-to-man, but it doesn’t matter what you run, if you can’t keep the ball in front of you it’s not going to work,” Knox head coach Dan Huizenga said. “It’s a tough matchup for us, because we’re playing three bigs and they’re playing basically five guards. We couldn’t keep help-side defense either.
“We told the girls you better find (Hatfield) and (Mason),” he continued. “We were down 11 and had made the game competitive, and then we gave them 3s the last four trips of the second half. It went from competitive to noncompetitive real fast.”
Krystal Sellers, another Triton sophomore guard, sank all four of her tries from the field en route to 10 points and six assists. Her basket off a feed from Breanna Lemler with 4:28 to play in the opening quarter started the Trojans’ 12-0 run. Sellers also drilled a pair of 3-pointers for Triton, which finished 7 of 14 from behind the arc.
“Krystal Sellers, when she misses her first couple of shots it seems like she loses confidence,” Heckaman said. “Tonight she hit her first couple and ended up 100 percent from the field. She did a great job.
“When you shoot 50 percent from the 3-point line you can’t complain,” he added. “Taylor and Kylie shot the ball well, and the kids we brought in off the bench did a great job. It was an all-around good team effort.”
Also for Triton, Hannah Jennings chipped in eight points off the bench, and Mallorie Jennings ripped down a team-best six rebounds in the league opener for both teams.
“The first conference game I’m always kind of nervous,” Heckaman, whose team claimed a share of the league crown last season, said. “We tied for first last year and we set a goal to win the conference this year. The kids have a goal to be right there at the end. If you let the first one slip by it’s an uphill climb the rest of the way. Now that we’ve gotten the first one we can concentrate on the next game.”
Senior post Kaitlin Zachary led the Redskins with 14 points and seven rebounds followed by Nikki Frasure with 10 points. Knox found success with Zachary in the high post during the first and fourth frames, but contented itself with deep perimeter looks in the middle of the game and wound up just 1 of 12 from 3-point territory.
“(Triton) did a good job trapping the side a little quicker and put more pressure on the reversal,” Huizenga said. “We just quit looking to the high post. Kaitlin’s a good enough passer that if we give her the ball she’ll get it to the girl on the block. At the end of the game she did a good job catching the ball and going to the basket. In the middle two quarters we went away from that. It was not by design.”
Triton heads to Tippy Valley Wednesday. Knox hosts Oregon-Davis Friday.
• TRITON 69,
Score by quarters
Knox: 7 20 32 38
Triton: 18 40 59 69
KNOX (38): Sarah Coad 1 0-0 3, Nikki Frasure 3 4-5 10, Amber Fletcher 1 1-1 3, Rachel Lenig 1 1-4 3, Kara Howard 0 0-0 0, Miranda Shepherd 1 0-0 2, Kaitlin Zachary 6 2-3 14, Torie Elliott 0 1-2 1, Chelsea Collins 1 0-0 2; Totals: 14 9-15 38.
TRITON (69): Allie Kann 0 0-0 0, Taylor Hatfield 7 8-9 24, Breanna Lemler 3 0-0 6, Krystal Sellers 4 0-0 10, Becca Kennedy 1 0-0 2, Kylie Mason 5 0-0 13, Mallorie Jennings 3 0-0 6, Hannah Jennings 3 2-4 8; Totals: 26 10-13 69.
3-point goals: Knox 1 (Coad), Triton 7 (Mason 3, Hatfield 2, Sellers 2); Turnovers: Knox 26, Triton 10; Rebounds: Knox 25 (Zachary 7), Triton 28 (M. Jennings 6); Assists: Knox 7, Triton (Sellers 6); Steals: Knox 5, Triton 13 (Mason 3); Fouls (fouled out): Knox 11 (none), Triton 15 (none); Records: Knox 1-5 (0-1 NSC), Triton 5-2 (1-0 NSC).
JV score: Triton 35 (Hannah Jennings 12, Jaela Meister 10), Knox 26 (Kendra Emigh 9).