A strong first-half performance led Triton’s varsity boys basketball team to a 60-46 win over Western Harnett in the boys consolation game of the Harnett County Tipoff Tournament at Harnett Central on Wednesday.
“I thought defensively we played a good first half,” said Triton coach T.J. Morrison. “I think first quarter we gave up four. Second quarter nine. Our goal is under 10. I don’t know that we’ll always be able to do it, but will try. So, first half was good defensively. Third quarter I thought we played OK. We sort of looked like a team. Fourth quarter was really ugly. We couldn’t finish and execute and just got sloppy. I think we were up 18 and my challenge to them was, ‘Let’s get better in the fourth.’ I don’t know that we did that. I think it was, overall, a better effort, the first three quarters especially. But the fourth quarter, we’ve got to do a better job there.”
Senior all-tournament selection Shaiheim Strickland recorded his second straight double-double to lead the Hawks (1-1), with 15 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
“At practice yesterday it was a point of emphasis that I got onto (Strickland) about a few things and told him that he needed to be tougher than (Monday) night,” Morrison said. “And he was tougher. There were times where I think he was going after two and three balls instead of just shooting and missing and that was it. He kept fighting for it and that’s what we’re hoping to see.”
Keionta Burnett had 13 points and three steals. Travion Sanders had 10 points, three assists and three steals. Malihk Giles had six points and five rebounds. Tre’Sean McLeod had five points. Josiah Lett had four points and six blocks. Dalen Thompson had four points, six rebounds and four assists. Tilghman Pope had two points. Zydarious McDougald had one point.
Triton was without junior center Ladrabious Eason, who was the Hawks’ leading scorer and a leading rebounder in the season opener on Monday, because of an ankle injury. Morrison was pleased with the players that stepped up in his absence, particularly Lett.
“We miss Dra, but I think some of the guys stepped up,” Morrison said. “I thought Jo played a pretty decent four game and we talked about stepping up for him today, too. He actually has a good knack for blocking shots and good timing. Even in practice, he blocks a lot of shots.”
Sophomore Steven Lassiter had 17 points to pace the Eagles (0-2).
All-tournament selection Wesley Lassiter had nine points. Christian Dantzler had eight points. Sean Moore had five points. Tyrese Jones and Kahlil McLean had three points apiece. Trell Chalmers had one point.
Triton came storming out of the gates with a 15-1 run to start the game, with Strickland scoring eight points and Burnett scoring seven during the run.
A 10-3 Western run that started in the first quarter and ended in the second cut the lead to single digits, but Triton responded with an 11-2 run to lead 29-13 at halftime.
After Triton outscored Western 20-13 in the third quarter to build the lead to 49-26, Western fought back in the fourth, but was not able to cut the lead to less than 14.
Both teams have a home game against Northwood up next on the schedule. The Eagles host the Chargers on Monday and the Hawks host the Chargers on Nov. 30.
“We still turn it over too much,” Morrison said. “A little bit better, but still too many turnovers. We’ll have a few practices and then next Saturday we’ll play Northwood, who I think has four or five starters back and their leading scorer is pretty good. They’ll be a really good team. They defend well. It’s nice to have a challenge. We’ve got our work cut out.”