Triton had a successful start to Tri-County Six 3-A Conference basketball play Friday evening by taking a three-game sweep over visiting Southern Lee.
After struggling offensively for three quarters, Triton dominated the fourth quarter to take a 54-37 win over Southern Lee in the girls game.
“I’m glad we did (play well in the fourth quarter), because we were giving them the thought that they could beat us,” said Triton girls coach Wendy Simmons. “I don’t know. We scored just 30 points in three quarters and 24 in the fourth. You average 10 points a quarter and then finally decide you’re going to come alive. Maybe they just finally figured out that they didn’t want to lose. We didn’t really change too much, we just told them to run the offense. ‘Something’s going to open up. Just take your time. Run the ball. Have some patience.’ And we took some better shots in the fourth quarter than we did in the first three. Good way to start the conference. We’ll see what happens from here on out.”
Senior Hannah Jackson had 12 points, eight rebounds, four steals and two blocks to lead the Hawks (6-8, 1-0 TCSC).
“We were hurting rebounding,” Simmons said. “They had a couple of big girls that were kind of pushing ours around and we were letting them do that. But I thought (Jackson) went in there and boxed out and got some good rebounds and caught the ball and put it right back up. She seemed to be in the right place at the right time to put the ball back up. I was pleased to see her play like she was capable of playing.”
Junior Zoie Starling, with 11 points, three assists and four steals and senior Alexis Howard, with 10 points, nine rebounds and three steals, were also leading performers for Triton.
“Both of them hit some big baskets at crucial times for us tonight,” Simmons said.
Anaya Lockamy had eight points and eight rebounds. Mary Kate Lucas had eight points. Kaila Cooney had two points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals. Jordan Miles had two points.
Triton was without sophomore starting point guard Anastasia McDonald because of an ankle injury. Cooney stepped up and played well in the role in her stead.
“(Cooney) is the one player on the court that sees the whole court,” Simmons said. “With Anastasia being out, you have to get somebody else in that point guard position and between her and Mary Kate, I thought they both did a good job handling the ball and seeing things. But, I think Kaila really stepped up and did what we needed her to do tonight.”
Freshman Benét Waddell had 10 points and senior Kate Lawrence had eight points to lead the Cavaliers (1-13, 0-1).
With the score tied 30-30 at the end of the third quarter, Triton opened the fourth with eight unanswered points to take the lead for good. The Hawks outscored the Cavaliers 24-7 in the fourth quarter to take the win.
Triton surged in the third quarter and held off Southern Lee in the fourth to take a 48-45 win over the defending champions.
“We kind of figured they’re good, they’re the team to beat and they’re the standard, as of last year,” said Triton boys coach T.J. Morrison. “I was really impressed watching them. I saw them earlier in the year. They lost to Pine Forest and then came back and beat Pine Forest, I believe, in the finals of a tournament in Fayetteville. We know they’re a good team, they’re talented, they’re well-coached and they’ve got some athletes. We had to show up, had to play well and we didn’t back down. I just loved that we competed. That’s probably our best defensive effort against a really good team this year. And then we made enough plays on the offensive end to pull away.”
Triton’s win snaps a six-game win streak for the Cavaliers (12-3, 0-1).
Senior Derreon Burnett had 14 points and nine rebounds, senior Emari White had 12 points, five rebounds and three assists and junior Travion Sanders had eight points to lead the Hawks (8-7, 1-0).
“I thought Emari played really well,” Morrison said. “I love his mid-range game. He’s really good, I think, at 12, 15, 18 feet. He’s a good mid-range shooter and he gets those shots that people don’t want or don’t take. He can get to those spots and make them. And Travion certainly hit a big shot in the corner, that three (in the fourth quarter). Travion can play, it’s just not been there like he wants it to be. But he can get after it and he can play. I’m ready for those guys to break out, be consistent and tonight was a good start.”
Kalil Hodges had five points and five assists. Byron Smith had four points. Myshon Smith had three points. Colby Parker had two points and four assists.
The Cavaliers were paced by 19 points from junior Se’Vion Clay and 17 points from senior Khalil Ridges, who was the conference’s player of the year last season.
After a three-pointer from Clay gave the Cavaliers a 27-23 lead early in the third quarter, back-to-back scores from Burnett sparked a 13-0 Triton run for a 36-27 lead, the largest for either team in the contest.
“We tried to run a couple of sets, a couple of plays and kids were able to be open to make plays,” Morrison said. “Derreon, I thought made two or three shots off of set plays off of contact. He didn’t back down, didn’t give up. I think in the first half he got some good looks, but there were hands on his arm or hands on the ball and he wasn’t able to finish. I think in the third quarter, we got him the ball in a good position and he was able to finish those, even with a little contact.”
A Ridges score and another Clay three cut the lead to 36-32 at the end of the third.
Triton maintained a lead throughout the fourth quarter. In the final minute, with Triton leading 45-41, the Cavaliers began fouling the Hawks to stop the clock. But Southern Lee had only been called for two fouls in the second half prior to that point, meaning Triton was able to take an extra 30 seconds off the clock as Southern Lee had to foul five times before finally sending Hodges to the line for a one-and-one with 25 seconds left. He made both to extend the lead to six.
“It’s kind of funny,” Morrison said. “You go from fussing about not getting a foul call to kind of being glad that they only have one team foul with about two minutes to go. They were forced to foul and we could move the ball a little bit and knock down a few free throws, eventually.”
With the short amount of time remaining, the Cavaliers were unable to overcome the deficit as the Hawks held on for the win.
Triton also won the junior varsity boys game. There was no JV girls game, as Triton does not have a JV girls team this season.
Triton will have a week off for exams before returning to action at conference opponent Union Pines Friday.