HAMLET — Three Triton starters occupied the pine with second-quarter foul trouble against four-time defending girls basketball sectional champion Oregon-Davis Saturday.
The Lady Trojans hardly missed a beat.
Even with three reserves – including a freshman seeing her first sectional time – on the floor, Triton opened up a nine-point halftime lead and maintained at least a seven-point edge the rest of the way to unseat No. 5 OD in Class A Sectional 50 title-game action at The Den.
The Trojans take on three-time defending state champion Fort Wayne Canterbury in Saturday’s second Caston Regional semifinal.
“If you had told me before the game that we’d have three starters on the bench in the second quarter with two or three fouls, I would have been nervous,” Triton head coach Adam Heckaman said. “Our subs stepped up huge for us.
“It’s huge,” he added of the sectional crown. “It’s really big for the seniors. This is my third year, and they’ve had to adjust to what we want them to do. Over the summer they worked really hard to get to this point. The big thing is they don’t care who scores; they don’t care who gets the attention; they just want to win. It means a lot for everyone.”
Emily Duff — one of six Triton seniors — turned in the game of her career with 24 points, five rebounds and five steals. She nailed 3-of-6 tries from 3-point land, the final out of the left corner off of a dish from senior Allison Thacker that capped off a 30-10 run and gave the Trojans their biggest lead of the game, 45-26 with 7:42 left in the fourth quarter.
“Defensively, we played really hard, and I was trying to pick up the slack for our offense,” Duff said. “We played with rhythm as a team. Winning against OD on their home floor, it’s amazing.”
And when the Cats quickly rattled off 11 consecutive points to pull within eight, 45-37 on a pair of LeeAnn Meyer charity tosses with 6:16 left in the game, Duff answered with a basket off an inbound pass from senior Sarah Stichter to put Triton back up by 10.
“I had a feeling (Duff) was going to have a good game,” Heckaman said. “She worked hard on her shot this morning, and she stepped up and knocked down some big shots. She was all over the place defensively.”
OD again chopped its deficit to eight points with a free throw from freshman Ashley Campbell with 1:19 to play, but Triton freshman Taylor Hatfield, pressed into significant minutes off the bench, hit 5 of 6 from the free-throw line in the concluding 1:12 to seal the win. She also gave the Trojans the lead for good, 17-16, on a driving bucket with 4:24 left in the first half.
“(Hatfield) came in and picked up the slack,” Duff said. “She’s a freshman and was amazing. It’s crazy.”
Also for Triton, Thacker fought through foul trouble to finish with 11 points, while senior subs Hannah Downing and Aundrea Sellers gave the Trojans plenty of steady minutes in the second quarter and down the stretch. Downing chipped in six points and three assists, and Sellers added a bucket and five boards.
“Taylor did a good job, and Hannah Downing came in and did an outstanding job against (OD’s) pressure,” Heckaman said. “We got the ball where we had to get it.”
And while the Trojans cashed in on 20-of-24 attempts from the foul line, OD failed to take advantage of Triton’s foul woes, hitting just 18-of-39 chances from the so-called charity stripe.
“We can whine and cry all we want, but (Triton) just did a heckuva job and beat our butts,” OD head coach Terry Minix said. “They came to play. They were more determined. The better team won tonight. You can look at intensity, free throws, rebounding, but the reason we lost is the team out there is good.
“We didn’t play with a sense of urgency until the fourth quarter,” he said. “If we start the game with the same intensity that we had in the fourth quarter we’re OK.”
Defensively, Triton’s 1-3-1 zone shut off OD’s driving lanes through the first three quarters, relegating the Cats to the perimeter where they finished 4 of 28 from 3-point range for the game. OD did finally locate paths to the rack in the fourth quarter, but the Trojans’ big cushion proved too much to overcome.
“Mama said we’d have nights like this,” Minix said. “Triton just played better than us. They have six or seven seniors, and they were more determined.”
Meanwhile, Triton effectively spread the floor and used long passes down the sideline to break OD’s full-court pressure. And although Triton trailed 16-15 at the first-quarter break, Heckaman liked where his veteran team stood, even with foul trouble.
“We’ve got six seniors, and OD has a lot of freshmen who haven’t been in a close sectional game; they had big leads at the end of the first quarter in their first two games,” Heckaman said. “I thought if we could keep it within two points at the end of the first quarter that OD would get a little flustered. I think that happened. I think it goes back to our experience. We were able to match them punch for punch.”
Campbell, who collected five steals, and senior Justyne Kranenburg scored 15 points apiece for the Cats. Junior Katie Schwenk also ripped down eight rebounds.
“Katie played her best game in awhile, “Minix said. “That’s what we’re going to need out of her next year as a senior leader.”
OD now loses seniors Kranenburg, Meyer, Kristie Taylor and Heather Boyle.
“Justyne’s been around forever,” Minix said. “She had a little less role this year, but she still had a great attitude. She’ll be good at whatever she decides to do. LeeAnn Meyer came back from an ACL tear; we didn’t even think she’d come out this year. She helped us. Kristie Taylor had games where she played great. She had others where she sat, and nobody did that with a better attitude. The Boyle girl was hurt, but they’re all good kids and were good for the team.”
CLASS A SECTIONAL 50 CHAMPIONSHIP
• TRITON 62,
Score by quarters
Triton: 15 31 42 62
OD: 16 22 26 48
TRITON (62): Hannah Downing 3 0-0 6, Lindsay Ganshorn 0 0-0 0, Emily Duff 8 5-6 24, Sydney Gochenour 0 0-0 0, Sarah Stichter 0 0-0 0, Allison Thacker 2 6-7 11, Aundrea Sellers 1 0-0 2, Shana Anderson 2 1-1 5, Megan Howdeshell 2 3-4 7, Breanna Lemler 0 0-0 0, Taylor Hatfield 1 5-6 7, Mallorie Jennings 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 19 20-24 62.
OD (48): Katie Schwenk 1 1-8 3, Ashley Campbell 5 4-8 15, Alicia McIntosh 2 3-5 7, Ali Stout 0 0-0 0, Jesse Avarone 1 2-4 4, Justyne Kranenburg 4 4-6 15, Haley White 0 0-0 0, Kendra Sauer 0 2-2 2, Kristie Taylor 0 0-0 0, LeAnn Meyer 0 2-6 2, Lincy Jones 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 13 18-39 48.
3-point goals: Triton 4 (Duff 3, Thacker), OD 4 (Kranenburg 3, Campbell); Turnovers: Triton 28, OD 22; Rebounds: Triton 36 (Stichter 6), OD 36 (Schwenk 8); Assists: Triton 11 (Downing 3), OD 3; Steals: Triton 12 (Duff 5), OD 14 (Campbell 5); Fouls (fouled out): Triton 26 (Howdeshell, Anderson), OD 20 (Avarone); Records: Triton 13-9, OD 17-6 (final).