HAMLET — Triton junior center Megan Howdeshell picked a perfect time for her biggest offensive output of the year.
The Trojans also selected a darn good time to put forward a sparkling defensive effort.
Fueled by Howdeshell’s season-high 21 points as well as 32 South Central turnovers, Triton pulled away from the Satellites, 47-34 in a Class A Girls Basketball Sectional 50 first-round tussle at Oregon-Davis Tuesday.
Triton takes on Argos in semifinal-round play Friday at 8 p.m. EST.
“Megan’s played very well the last couple of games,” Triton head coach Adam Heckaman said. “We’ve been working to isolate Megan in the post and get her the ball. We’re making better passes, passes that aren’t getting tipped. From the beginning it was clear that this was Megan’s game. Our guards recognized that — our guards were struggling with the outside shot – and they looked for Megan and did a great job getting the ball to her, and she did a great job finishing.”
Defensively, Triton’s 1-3-1 halfcourt zone and full-court press held the Satellites to a 21.4-percent tally from the field and scored 20 points off South Central miscues.
“The last few games we’ve picked up our defensive intensity, and it’s made a big difference,” Heckaman said. “Our defense has led to our offense; our offense has picked up the last few games, too.”
The Trojans led much of the first half and well into the third quarter until a pair of charity tosses from South Central’s Stephanie Balon knotted the score at 22-all with 2:26 left in the third quarter.
Triton answered immediately when sophomore Shana Anderson fed Howdeshell on the left block for a basket and foul to regain the advantage for good and kick off a 10-2 run.
“We played hard for 32 minutes, but we still had some mental lapses, and (South Central) tied the game,” Heckaman said. “I was proud of the way we finished the quarter on a 6-0 run and then expanded it in the fourth. When the game was tied we went right back to Megan, and she got us a 3-point play opportunity. We got the ball right where we wanted it.”
Senior point guard Allison Thacker chipped in 12 points, including a 6-for-6 fourth-quarter finish from the free-throw line as Triton upped its lead down the stretch. Emily Duff added eight points for the Trojans, including a conventional 3-point play in transition to put Triton up 39-26 with 4:36 left in the game.
Also for the Trojans, senior Sarah Stichter grabbed six rebounds, nabbed four steals, dished out three assists, drew a crucial second-half offensive foul, and recorded multiple tie-ups in Triton’s zone during an all-around heady performance.
“(Stichter) is the one who does the things that aren’t going to show up in the paper,” Heckaman said. “She’s a vocal leader who makes sure people are in the right spots. She’s the one that steps into the right defensive position to make a play or to take a charge; she took a charge tonight, and Megan took a charge tonight because she was following Sarah’s lead. She makes the small plays that lead to the big plays. And when Aundrea (Sellers) is scoring Sarah might sit, but she supports the team from the bench. She’s the kind of player you love to have on a team; she’s a great kid and a great leader.”
For South Central, Balon led the way with 12 points and 17 rebounds.
• TRITON 47,
SOUTH CENTRAL 34
At Class A OD Sectional
Score by quarters
South Central: 9 16 22 34
Triton: 13 20 28 47
SOUTH CENTRAL (34): Brittany Wright 0 0-0 0, Kayla Pritchard 0 0-0 0, Shelby Worthen 1 0-0 2, Savannah Little 0 1-2 1, Dallas Ludlow 0 0-0 0, Hayley Pahl 0 0-0 0, Rylee Nunemaker 0 2-2 4, Katelyn Tucker 0 0-0 0, Katie Bekavac 0 4-4 4, Sydney Satoski 2 1-2 5, Stephanie Balon 3 5-8 12, Jill Rosenbaum 3 2-2 8. TOTALS: 9 15-20 34.
TRITON (47): Hannah Downing 0 0-0 0, Emily Duff 2 4-6 8, Sarah Stichter 0 0-0 0, Allison Thacker
2 6-6 12, Aundrea Sellers 1 2-4 4, Shana Anderson 1 0-0 2, Megan Howdeshell 8 5-9 21. TOTALS: 14 17-25.
3-point goals: South Central 1 (Balon), Triton 2 (Thacker); Turnovers: South Central 32, Triton 17; Rebounds: South Central 44 (Balon 17), Triton 27 (Howdeshell 8); Assists: South Central 3, Triton 10 (Stichter 3); Steals: South Central 10 (Worthen 3), Triton 14 (Stichter 4); Fouls (fouled out): South Central 23 (Bekavac, Rosenbaum), Triton 14 (none); Records: South Central 10-9 (final), Triton 11-9.