By J.W. Campbell, Sportswriter
Finishing with a 14-15 overall record, the Triad Lady Knights experienced a see-saw season during the 2018-2019 campaign, where hot and cold streaks alternated back and forth. Ultimately, the good and bad stretches nearly equaled out.
“Overall, we did well,” Triad Coach Stephanie Potthast said. “We had a tough stretch at the beginning of the season, but I felt like we bounced back at Christmas time. Then, unfortunately we had an injury that changed the dynamics of our team.”
Triad’s best run of the year came in early January when the Lady Knights fashioned a four-game winning streak that included wins over the Mt. Vernon Lady Rams, the Benton Rangerettes, the Waterloo Bulldogs and the Mascoutah Indians. That streak was preceded by a four-game sequence in which the Lady Knights won three of four contests, giving them a surge of seven wins in eight games.
On the down side, the team struggled the most between November 29 and December 12 when they lost six consecutive contests. Of course, that losing streak included games against some of the toughest teams in the area, Highland (25-8), Civic Memorial (29-6), Collinsville (15-13), O’Fallon (25-9), Jerseyville (22-9) and Freeburg (21-10). Combined those opponents went 137-55 during the season.
In addition, three of them were conference foes, who the Knights had to face at least twice in the regular season, and in the case of Jerseyville and Highland, Triad saw three times during the course of the year. The Lady Knights met the Panthers in the championship game of the Jerseyville Invitational in January to account for a third meeting between the two teams. And in the case of Highland, Triad’s third clash with the Bulldogs came in a regional semifinal game. The Lady Knights went a combined 0-8 against Civic Memorial, Highland and Jerseyville, the top three team in the Mississippi Valley Conference.
On a positive note, Triad rebounded from its six-game losing streak by winning three of the next four, all at the Jerseyville Invitational, where the Lady Knights finished second in a 16-team field. The lone loss was to the host school in the championship game. Prior to that, Triad beat Alton, McCluer North and Carrollton at the event.
Triad also earned hardware at its season-opening tournament of the year, the Columbia Tip-Off Classic. The Lady Knights beat Lebanon (22-12) in the third-place game of the tournament after losing a semifinal contest to Columbia (23-6) and beating Alton Marquette (21-10) in a quarterfinal game.
Triad’s other tournament experience, the Highland Tournament, was less profitable. The locals went two and out there, falling to Breese Mater Dei (23-7) and Breese Central (18-12).
For the second time in two years, Triad was also hindered by the injury bug. In January, Triad lost its top scorer in the person of Heather Rood, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during a game against Belleville West. At the time, Rood was averaging 12.2 points a game. A similar injury to her other knee ended Roods season during the 2017-2018 campaign.
Behind Rood was Ali Barisch who averaged 8.1 points per game. Caleigh Miller managed 6.4 points per game, with Alyssa Powell contributing 5.7 points per game and Krista Cochran providing 4.1 points per game.
The team’s leading rebounders were Miller at 5.3 boards per game, Powell at 4.2, Barisch at 3.1, Rood at 2.6 and Cochran at 2.4.
Of that group, all are seniors except for Powell.
The Lady Knights will graduate a large senior class this May, including Barisch, Cochran, Riley Fandrey, Katie Jones, Miller, Rood, Molly Suess and Jordan Wilson.
Varsity players expected to return for next year are sophomore Sydney Hartoin, junior Raegan Holley, freshman Reagan Chigas, freshman Avery Bohnenstiehl, freshman Alyssa Powell, sophomore Anja Mills and sophomore Ella Manso.
“We have a lot of good basketball players coming back for next year,” Potthast said. “Our seniors did a nice job of showing them what it’s all about. I hope the younger group can take it to the next level. I feel like our program is heading in the right direction.”