HAMLET – “We lost to a better team tonight.”
There was no sugar coating of tonight’s sectional title game from Triton girls basketball coach Adam Heckaman.
“They were phenomenal all year, they’ve lost three games and obviously all to great opponents. They’re just tough to stop,” Heckaman continued.
Tough to stop, indeed.
No. 9 Triton hung with host and No. 2 Oregon-Davis for a while but the heavily favored Lady Bobcats eventually pulled away for an impressive 76-38 victory Saturday night in Class 1-A Sectional 51 championship game.
It was the third loss of the season to the potent Bobcats for the Trojans. OD topped Triton 65-55 in Bourbon Jan. 2 and then posted an 80-36 victory Jan. 19 in the title game of the Bi-County Tournament.
The Lady Trojans came out determined and left it all on the court Saturday but their opponent proved to be too much to handle. A big three from Kylie Mason brought Triton within one point at 6-5 midway through the first quarter but the momentum would not stay with the Lady Trojans for long. O-D went on a 12-0 run over the next two minutes and closed the quarter with an 18-7 lead.
Despite the less than impressive end to the first quarter, Triton came out firing in the second and closed the gap to nine points. After that, though, the Lady Trojans offense was continually stifled by the Lady Bobcats defense and the nine point deficit quickly turned into a 36-17 advantage for O-D, thanks in part to some big baskets from Ashley Campbell.
Though the Lady Bobcats dominated the game as a team, it was Campbell that led the way. The junior guard finished her night leading all scorers with 25 points, 17 of which came in the first half. She would also dish out nine assists. Campbell and the Lady Bobcats took a 40-20 commanding lead into the locker room.
Also causing problems on the night for Triton was Haley Collings. The junior finished her night with a double-double, racking up 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Nine of Collings’ boards were on defense, and defense was what propelled O-D to the win more than anything. O-D forced 20 turnovers on the night and held Triton’s shooters at bay. The leading scorers for Triton were Taylor Hatfield and Mallorie Jennings, who finished with just eight points each.
The third quarter performance, which saw O-D outscore Triton 16-4, was a prime example for how the night went for both teams. Staunch defense from the Lady Bobcats was what their coach Terry Minix said led them to the title.
“Defense was what won the game for us tonight,” said Minix, whose team has now won five of the last six sectional championships (Triton won the other in 2011). “We were not shooting lights out or anything. This was just a great defensive performance.”
When asked just how good this team could be, Minix responded with high accolades for his girls, “They can be as good as the ’07 team. They can definitely be that good.”
The 2007 Lady Bobcats squad finished its season with a 25-3 mark and cut down the nets in Indianapolis for a state championship.
The Lady Bobcats (21-3) will travel to the Caston Regional next Saturday and take on the winner of the Morgan Township sectional.
As for Triton and Heckaman, it’s the end of the road on this 2012-2013 campaign. The coach gave praise to his seniors for all they had done during their time at Triton in his interview and passed a message on to his underclassmen.
“Remember this, one way or another. I told them to write it on a mirror when they get ready in the morning. They have to understand that this won’t be any different if they don’t decide to come work this summer. And I know they will come work. They don’t like to lose. Nobody likes to lose like that, definitely. They’ll come in and and they will get better, and that’s what you have to do,” stated Heckaman.
Although the season ended in an unsatisfactory way, the Lady Trojans still had an impressive year. Triton claimed a Northern State Conference title for the second year in a row and finishes with a 17-6 mark on the season. In addition, coach Hecakman will return eight players next year including three starters.
The future certainly seems bright for Lady Trojan basketball.