BOURBON – Back in November, who woulda thunk it?
Triton, looking revamped and completely outside of itself from a start of the season to forget, sits atop the Hoosier North Athletic Conference all by its lonesome after a thrilling 42-32 girls basketball victory Tuesday night over Winamac. The win keeps Triton undefeated in the HNAC, and a game up on Winamac which lost in conference for the first time.
Tuesday night’s game began like a ‘first to 20’ might win the thing. Heading into the half, Winamac led 14-10. Neither team had any rhythm, the two clubs combined for almost as many turnovers (25) and shots attempted (29) in the first 16 minutes. Triton’s leading scorer, Hannah Wanemacher, attempted just two shots in the half, with no points to show. Coming out of the break, that all changed.
Wanemacher immediately became a factor in the second half, hitting a three at the 6:35 mark, and her second bomb gave Triton its first lead at 19-18. Wanemacher would hit four threes in the third quarter, the 12 points lifting Triton to a 19-point quarter and a two-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
Jaela Meister scored seven of her game-high 18 points in the fourth quarter as Triton began to pull away. Meister hit a three to open the fourth then came back down and put in a bucket to give the Lady Trojans a 34-27 lead. Shayla May would hit a short jumper to put her team up nine, and Nicole Sechrist grabbed a key offensive rebound and putback to put Triton up 11, just the breathing room coach Adam Heckaman’s club needed.
“We struggle offensively at times, go through these lulls, and we have recognized that we have to pick it up defensively to make up for it,” Heckaman said of his club, which moves to 7-11 overall and 6-0 in the HNAC. “We held them down, and kept the course. We had to make up some points in the first half, and we just kept chipping away.”
Meister, who has been dealing with a balky knee the entire season, also had five rebounds and three steals on Senior Night. Classmate May had the one bucket and the third senior, Brooklyn Beatty, had two big baskets in the third quarter that helped keep Triton ahead. Beatty scored six points and had two rebounds.
“Everybody stepped up and did what we needed,” Heckaman said. “When they recognized we were trying to get Hannah more touches in the second half, that’s when we started dumping down to (Sechrist) and Jaela. Then Brooklyn steps up and hits a couple big shots for us. Great team win.”
Camryn Popa did all she could for the Warriors (10-7, 4-1 HNAC), scoring 15 points and well as collecting three rebounds and three steals. Popa was the only Winamac player to score in the fourth quarter, hitting 5-6 free throws. Popa wouldn’t hit her first until there was 1:34 to go, to which Triton had already built a 9-0 run.
Claire Collins added six points for Winamac before fouling out.
Winamac technically still has an outside shot to win the HNAC if it wins out the remaining three games against North Judson, Caston and Pioneer and gets some help. Triton, however, can lock up at least a share of the conference crown Friday night at Culver (2-14, 1-4 HNAC) and can guarantee itself the entire trophy Jan. 29 at North Judson, regardless of what Winamac does the rest of the way.
“We had every excuse to fold early on when teams were beating up on us,” Heckaman said. Triton started its season 1-7. “I think our girls are realizing that in the conference, we can win games and we’re taking care of the things we can. We go into Culver Friday and we need to do the job there. That puts us in position to reach one of our goals.”
In the JV contest, Triton hit 7-8 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter to best Winamac 33-28. Courtney Jennings paced the Trojans with eight points and six points were had by both Alysha May and Kaitlyn Bailey. Ashley Keller led Winamac with nine points.
The Culver game Friday night is the first of a girls/boys doubleheader. The girls game at Culver begins at 6 p.m., with the varsity boys from Triton playing Culver afterwards. The two JV clubs will meet Thursday at Culver in a boys/girls doubleheader with the girls starting it off at 6 p.m.