LAKEVILLE — Triton’s girls relied on some accurate outside shooting to gap LaVille in the first half.
The shots stopped falling in the second half, but fortunately for the Lady Trojans, they were able to knock down enough free throws to ride out their halftime cushion in a 56-50 Bi-County semifinal win over the host Lady Lancers Thursday night.
“The first quarter was tight. The second quarter our defense picked up just a little bit, and we knocked some shots down,” said Triton head coach Adam Heckaman. “We didn’t shoot well tonight. A little bit of that was because they got out on us, but we just missed some shots that we should’ve been able to make. We settled for too many outside shots, and we just let them hang around. I think the big difference was the second quarter, just being able to gap them a little there with some shots and some big stops.”
Triton converted 6-of-14 from deep in the opening two frames to grab a 33-24 lead at the intermission. The Trojans scuffled to a 1-of-12 mark from beyond the arc in the second half but converted 6-of-10 from the foul line in the final frame to secure a championship berth opposite Oregon-Davis — a 69-42 winner over Culver Community in the early semifinal Thursday — the first Bi-County finals berth for the program in Heckaman’s five-year tenure at the helm.
Saturday’s title match represents a big rivalry game for the Trojans, who fell short by a 65-55 margin the last time the two state-ranked Sectional 51 foes faced off in Bourbon Jan. 2.
“That’s obviously a big game. Championship of the Bi-County, we haven’t been here since I’ve been coaching, so it’s a big step for us,” said Heckaman. “OD’s good. They’ve got kids that can play, kids that can step up and score, and we’ve got to be ready to play. We played them alright the first time, we’re just going to have to see what we can do against them Saturday night. We’ve obviously got to play a little bit better than we did tonight.”
Along with Triton’s first half perimeter shooting, LaVille turnovers helped to make the difference Thursday.
The Lancers turned over 19 times against the Trojans — not an overwhelming number but enough to cost the home team in a tight game against a Trojans squad that surrendered just 11 TOs in the win.
“Our girls played hard. We got a little out of sorts, in a hurry,” said LaVille head coach Kevin McCullough. “I think if we would have just stuck with the plan a little longer, we wouldn’t have had 19 turnovers. In that game we needed to have 12 turnovers.”
The Trojans were led by Taylor Hatfield’s game-best 20 points, while Shana Anderson finished with 13 points and five steals. Breanna Lemler put up seven points with a team-leading 10 rebounds as Triton evened up the battle of the boards 40-40 against a bigger Lancers lineup.
“Taylor’s shot came around tonight. She had been struggling with her outside shot, and she was able to hit some shots tonight, which I think was big for us, especially with Kylie (Mason) struggling from the field,” said Heckaman.
“Generally speaking, we’ve got kids that if somebody struggles, somebody else steps up, and that was the case tonight. Taylor stepped up for us, Bre stepped up big, and Shana got us going early and we were able to finish with the free throws.”
LaVille’s balanced scoresheet was led by Hannah Herbster’s 16 points, while Katie Berger dropped 15 after leading the Lancers with 16 in their opener with New Prairie Tuesday, and Kelsey Gurtner finished with a double-double of 10 points and 14 rebounds.
LaVille will get another shot at Triton in Northern State Conference play when they host the Trojans in the two teams’ regular-season closer Feb. 1.
“We’ve got a rematch in two weeks,” said McCullough. “The next one’s a conference game, and it’ll be more important for them because they can be undisputed conference champs if they’ve won out by then. We can’t be undisputed champs. They’ll be playing hard for that, but they play hard all the time.”
• TRITON 56, LaVILLE 50
Score by quarters
LaVille: 14 24 35 50
Triton: 18 33 46 56
TRITON (56): Allie Kann 2, Taylor Hatfield 20, Breanna Lemler 7, Krystal Sellers 2, Kylie Mason 6, Mallorie Jennings 6, Shana Anderson 13, Hannah Jennings 0; Totals: 20 9-16 56.
LaVILLE (50): Kelsey Gurtner 10, Paige Hawkins 0, McKenzie Leed 7, Kyla Coblentz 0, Hannah Herbster 16, Katie Berger 15, Lynae Hostrawser 2, Amanda Carbiener 0; Totals: 19 6-13 50.
3-pointers: Triton 7 (Hatfield 3, Mason 2, Anderson 2), LaVille 6 (Berger 5, Leed); Rebounds: Triton 40 (Lemler 10), LaVille 40 (Gurtner 14); Turnovers: Triton 11, LaVille 19; Steals: Triton 12 (Anderson 5), LaVille 3; Assists: Triton 14 (Lemler 4, Sellers 4, Mason 4), LaVille 10 (Coblentz 5); Fouls (fouled out): Triton 14 (none), LaVille 14 (none).
Records: Triton 13-4, LaVille 9-8.