BOURBON – For the fourth consecutive season, the Triton and Oregon-Davis girls basketball teams met in the IHSAA Class 1A Sectional 51 championship game.
This season O-D came in ranked No. 1 in Class 1A and for the third consecutive season the Lady Bobcats left Triton with a bad taste in its mouth.
The two teams went toe-to-toe for the second time this season on Saturday night at Triton High School. Earlier this year O-D won with ease over the Lady Trojans, 75-35. The score and game would be closer this time, but ultimately it was still the Lady ‘Cats who walked away victorious, defeating Triton, 62-40.
Up 22-7 after the first quarter, the game looked like it was going to be another 40-point blow-out win for the top-ranked Bobcats, but Triton refused to go down without a fight.
The two teams played some of the most physical eight minutes of competition all season in the second quarter. Numerous players hit the floor going for loose balls and there was nine personal fouls between the two squads in that quarter alone.
Becca Kennedy led the scoring attack in the quarter for Triton and would help to lead her team outscore O-D in the second quarter, 14-12, making the game manageable 34-21 deficit at half. Kennedy finished the half leading Triton with six points.
The sudden dip in the quality of play from his team in the second quarter was not something Lady Bobcat head coach Terry Minix was happy to see.
“We kind of got lackadaisical there in the second quarter,” said Minix, now in his 21st year at O-D. ” We ran kind of a new defense tonight that we don’t run often so the girls were trying to adjust with that. Overall I think they executed it well, I could not have asked for it to be ran any better and that’s all credit to them. We just got too comfortable before half.”
After the break, O-D went right back into its dominating fashion that fans are so accustomed to. To their credit, the Lady Trojans never once gave up or backed down, but sometimes your best is no enough to beat an opponent like the Lady Bobcats.
Oregon-Davis turned 17 Triton turnovers into 21 points, nearly the difference in the game. The two teams each pulled down 36 rebounds but Triton only shots 25-percent from the field while O-D was shooting almost 45-percent. O-D had three scorers in double-digits, led by Ashley Campbell’s 18 points.
Triton was led by Krystal Sellers’ eight points while Hannah Jennings, and Kennedy each had seven points.
Mallorie Jennings, one of three seniors playing their final game for Triton, also had seven points. Fellow senior captain Allie Kann had two rebounds and one assist in her final game. Finally, Taylor Hatfield was keyed on all night by the O-D defense and was held to just four points.
Following the loss an emotional, yet candid, Hatfield talked about her time at Triton.
“It’s going to be hard to leave,” Hatfield said, then paused to look around her home court. “I’ve played with these girls for as long as I can remember. I know that after I leave that they will carry on the tradition and I can’t wait to come back and watch them.”
Hatfield will also be coming back to watch her coach, Adam Heckaman, for whom she had a strong endorsement for.
“I feel like he has always had confidence in me,” Hatfield said of Heckaman. “He’s been there with me every step of the way and I hope that when I go to college that I can have that same type of relationship with my coach.”
Hatfield’s will continue her basketball career playing for Indiana University-East in Richmond next Fall. But that won’t change her love for Triton.
“Blue and gold runs through my veins,” said Hatfield with a smile. “I’m going to be a Trojan forever.”
As for Heckaman, Saturday night is one he would soon like to forget, but the class of 2014 is one he would like to remember for a long time.
“We talked after the game,” Heckaman said about his seniors. “We’ve been blessed to have those girls play for us. Those three kids have done a lot for this team. We are truly so thankful to have had those kids and what they have done for this program. They are all going on to do their own things in different sports in college and I hope they have a lot of success with their futures.”
Looking ahead to next season Triton looks to return six girls and Heckaman the success they will have is entirely up to them.
“They know what they have to do,” said Heckaman. “We’ve talked about the fact that they have to set the example for the younger kids this summer. If they put in the work, other kids will put in the work and we’ll continue to improve and get ready for next year.”
Triton finishes the season 15-7.
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Minix, who guided OD to a state title in 2007, and his Lady Bobcats (19-2) will advance to the Caston regional where it will not have to play Fort Wayne Canterbury. O-D was eliminated by Canterbury the past two seasons.
Minix was asked is was glad to see that Canterbury is no longer in the Class 1-A mix. Canterbury, which had won five of the last six Class 1-A state titles (including the past two), was moved up to Class 2-A this year.
“Okay, I’m glad they’re out of it,” said Minix with a laugh. “I’m not going to stand here and lie to you about that. If they want to play sometime in the summer, I’ll go play them. Until then, I’m fine with them being out.”
O-D will tip at 12 p.m. against Morgan Township (15-6) at Caston High School. West Central (17-2) will play Hamilton (5-14) on the top of the bracket at 10 a.m.