CULVER – Triton wasn’t able to get the old adage to work in its favor Wednesday night.
Meeting Argos for the third time this season, Triton couldn’t find a win in the IHSAA Class 1-A Culver Girls Basketball Sectional, falling to Argos 34-28.
A loss in week one of the season and another in the opening round of the Bi-County tournament last month saw Triton drastically close the gap against the No. 3-ranked program in Class 1-A. A 23-point loss on Nov. 8 turned into an eight-point setback on Jan. 17. The Dragons had to breathe a sigh of relief to escape the third meeting.
Triton held a 27-24 lead with just over three minutes to play, but after Gary Teel called a timeout to rally his Argos troops, Argos scored 10 of the game’s final 11 points. A layup by Courtney Dunlap, followed by a steal by Kennedy Binkley that ended in a Macee Stryker gave the Dragons the lead for good at 28-27.
Argos would force three turnovers in that final three minutes and went 5-6 from the free throw line in the final 30 seconds to salt away the win.
“I feel like I’ve been through the ringer,” Teel said. “It was a dog fight the whole game. (Triton head coach) Adam (Heckaman) had his kids prepared well again, which I knew he would, and we had worked on a few things for the box-and-one. I thought some of those things worked well for us, got us inside and got Courtney (Dunlap) inside, and that was a big help for us.”
Dunlap led Argos with 18 points, four rebounds, four steals, two assists and a block.
In a sloppily played game all around, with both teams combining for 45 turnovers, it was the miscues of Triton that Heckaman ultimately pointed to in his team’s demise.
“Well we turned it over,” said Heckaman. “We had a one or two-point lead in the fourth, missed a couple bunnies that could have helped us out a little bit. A couple turnovers against the press that they converted off of. That’s what gave them the lead, and then when we are playing from behind we get more nervous, especially late in the game.”
Heckaman felt his club had done enough to win, keeping Dunlap quiet for portions of the game and forcing Argos into 21 turnovers, 10 of those created off steals. Triton also outrebounded Argos 33-22, had 10 second-chance points and went 9-14 from the free throw line.
Hannah Wanemacher led Triton with 11 points and Nicole Sechrist added six points and nine rebounds.
“We have a couple of kids that we are going to have to find to fill spots (next year),” said Heckaman, referring to senior Quinn Downing and junior Courtney Jennings, the latter not returning to the program next season. “But I think we’ve learned a lot from this year. I think we’ll be a little bit more prepared going into the next season to handle the beginning of next season.
“Hopefully, we’ll hang on to the feeling and really let it push us going into the summer.”
Triton closes its season at 8-16 overall. Argos moves to 20-2 and will take on North Miami (12-11), which thumped Culver 51-10 also on Wednesday. LaCrosse (14-9) and South Central (Union Mills) (11-12) are in the other semi-final.
Portions of the story were provided by Whitney Worthen, The Pilot News