Lady Cats back on top at sectional

HAMLET — It was a rematch that Oregon-Davis had been thinking about a long time.
Triton unseated the four-peat sectional champion Lady Cats at last year’s Sectional 51 championship game, and Saturday, No. 4 OD repaid the favor, rallying past the No. 7 Lady Trojans for a 53-47 championship win to dethrone Triton and retake the crown on the Cats’ home floor at The Den.
“There were really thinking about it,” said OD head coach Terry Minix of Saturday’s sectional championship rematch. “We talked about 365 days, we talked about 18 out of 39, so we used a lot of numbers just to reiterate what we did. I thought the kids really took it to heart. I thought the first half they played maybe complacent, maybe scared. I think the second half they did a better job. I thought the sense of urgency came out, and I thought they just played like they really wanted to win this thing.”
“Last year we got beat by them obviously in the finals and we knew we owed them,” said OD sophomore guard Ashley Campbell. “We really didn’t come out to play in the first half, but the coach was preaching in the locker room defense, that’s what wins games for us. We came out ready to play with passion, emotion, and we really just came to play hard.”
Campbell poured in a game-high 26 points points to power the Cats to the reprisal win. Her back-to-back 3-pointers at the close of the third quarter and start of the fourth pushed OD from behind and into the lead for good at 40-36 after the Cats had trailed by as many as 10 at the 4:02 stop of the third.
OD held off Triton at the line, going 17 of 23 in free throws in the second half — including 10 of 18 in the fourth — as Triton starters Megan Howdeshell and Kylie Mason both fouled out with plenty of time to go.
“The free throws, we still didn’t shoot them great, but we were able to shoot them,” said Minix. “We made them when we needed to, not a great percentage but we made them. We just turned up the intensity in the second half. I thought our defense, which all year long, has changed everything. How we go on offense is we want to push up and attack the basket off of that, and when we did we got the fouls.”
“They got to the line a lot when they went on their run. I thought we could keep those kids in the game to try to withstand their run. It didn’t work out, and they stepped up and knocked down enough free throws to win,” said Triton head coach Adam Heckaman.
“That’s what it boiled down to, some possessions here and there. We got a lead, they came back and put some pressure on us. We made some bad mistakes and then the ball and whistle didn’t fall our way a couple times and then we kind of got flustered by that. They took advantage, they got a lead and they’re very good when they get the lead of being able to pull it out. They play a slow-down game and handle the ball and knock their free throws down.”
While OD was led by Campbell’s 26 and Alicia McIntosh’s 11, Triton was paced by junior combo player Shana Anderson’s 21 points and 11 rebounds. Her wing triple at the 6:47 mark of the third gave Triton a 29-19 advantage.
Point guard Taylor Hatfield chipped in 12 points in the loss, while senior forward Howdeshell finished with seven points and five rebounds before fouling out with 2:29 remaining.
The Trojans big goodbye to Howdeshell following a 16-6 season that included a 6-1 Northern State Conference co-championship finish.
“We had a great year. I told the girls they need to remember all the good things we did this year. We won conference. We finished 16-6, it’s been a long time since there’s been that much excitement about girls basketball at Triton. They did a great job,” said Heckaman.
“Megan has been with us for four years. I’ve been coach four years, and saying goodbye to a kid like that is tough. She did a lot for us. We’re going to miss her a great deal. We have a lot coming back, and I made sure the girls understood that the way they feel right now, they need to bottle it up and bring it in every time that they come in to work out this summer.”
OD improves to 20-4 with Saturday’s win and moves on to play Morgan Township at the Caston Regional this upcoming Saturday at 10:30 a.m. EST. It was a big step forward for a young team that had gone undefeated through junior high but hadn’t won a championship until this year’s Bi-County Tournament, and the team dedicated the win to former manager Christina Rottering, who finally succumbed after a long battle with cancer last year.
“We were on them so bad about not ever winning anything. We kept telling them ‘Hey, you guys haven’t won anything at this level,’ and they came out and showed us in the Bi-County,” said Minix. “I think that helped them and made them understand in that game, and I think it got them hungry and made them really want this. They wanted this obviously because they wanted it, but also because of Christina (Rottering).”
At Oregon-Davis
Sectional championship
Score by quarters
Oregon-Davis: 9 19 37 53
Triton: 16 26 36 47
OREGON-DAVIS (53): Katie Schwenk 1, Ashley Campbell 26, Alicia McIntosh 11, Jesse Avarone 7, Haley Collings 6, Kendra Sauer 2; Totals: 12 23-33 53.
TRITON (47): Taylor Hatfield 12, Kylie Mason 3, Mallorie Jennings 4, Shana Anderson 21, Megan Howdeshell 7; Totals: 17 8-13 47.
3-pointers: Triton 5 (Mason, Anderson 4), Oregon-Davis 6 (Campbell 3, McIntosh 2, Avarone); Turnovers: Triton 10, OD 7; Rebounds: Triton 25 (Anderson 11), OD 28 (Collings 8); Steals: Triton 3 (Jennings 2), OD 7 (Collings 4); Assists: Triton 11 (Hatfield 3), OD 7 (Avarone 3); Fouls (fouled out): Triton 23 (Howdeshell, Mason), Oregon-Davis 14.
Records: Oregon-Davis 20-4, Triton 16-6 (final).