Triton’s varsity girls basketball team improved to 2-0 on the season with a 39-21 win at rival South Johnston on Friday night.
“We didn’t take care of the basketball like we did in the first game,” said Triton coach Wendy Simmons. “We were trying to do too much too quickly, instead of just catching the ball first and seeing what’s there.
“We’ve been working on our full court press in practice for a couple of days and we thought it would be a good time to try it out. I don’t know if we got any steals off of that, but we created some because they panicked a little bit. We didn’t really get the passes that we were supposed to pick off, but it’s a work in progress. We just need to continue to be aggressive on defense. At times on defense, we maybe came out a little too high and left the inside a little open, but we made those adjustments and it seemed like it worked to our advantage most of the time.”
South Johnston coach Whitney Williams said turnovers were costly for the Trojans (0-3).
“We definitely made way, way, way too many turnovers,” Williams said. “I don’t think our heads were in it. I just think we weren’t prepared.”
Freshman A’Shari Watlington had 13 points, five rebounds and three steals for the Hawks. Sophomore Abby Hood had 10 points, eight rebounds, four assists and five steals.
“A’Shari does a good job at the point and running the offense,” Simmons said. “She’s a great asset to that lineup right now. And Abby. What can you say about Abby? She’s everywhere. She’s a good inside and outside player. She’s pretty much unstoppable when she wants to be.”
Tristan Ennis had eight points, 10 rebounds and three steals. Kaila Cooney had four points and five rebounds. Aubree Bass had four points and four rebounds. Anastasia McDonald had four assists.
Triton has a young team this season. Cooney and Anastasia McDonald are the only two seniors and five of the Hawks’ nine players are freshmen.
“Getting Anastasia back is going to be a big help for us (she missed Triton’s first game at Smithfield-Selma on Jan. 6),” Simmons said. “The most I have is two seniors. Hopefully they’ll just continue to get out there and work hard.”
A pair of seniors led the Trojans in scoring. Janay McDonald had seven points and Katon Blackmon had six points.
Kennedy Byrd had five points. Jordyn Brown had two points. Diana Boykin had one point.
South had several players back Friday who had been in quarantine because of volleyball. Byrd had rejoined the team for its game at Western Harnett Tuesday, but Blackmon, Brown, Boykin and Caroline Tucker were playing for the first time this season.
“Hopefully we can get some practices in and get it together and get them working together as a unit,” Williams said. “We were just out of whack tonight.”
The first quarter was dominated by defense, with Triton holding a narrow 5-4 lead at the end of the quarter. But the Hawks dominated the next two quarters, outscoring South 20-5 in the second and 12-5 in the third to lead 37-14.
South’s defense picked up again in the fourth, holding Triton to just two points in the quarter, but the Trojans were unable to find the offense to rally, scoring only seven points in the quarter.
Triton travels to Lee County (0-1) to start Tri-County Six 3-A Conference play on Tuesday.
South Johnston is at Greater Neuse 3-A Conference and Johnston County rival Clayton on Wednesday to start conference play.
“We’ve just got to put it all together,” Williams said. “Put all of the pieces together. Defensively in the end, I thought our man looked good. Certain aspects of us looked good, but it’s few and far between.”