By Anthony Jones
With six of their top seven scorers from last season gone and only three returning players with any varsity points under their belt, Triad’s boys basketball roster is filled with plenty of new faces. Despite their lack of experience, the team is off to a solid start as they are only a few seconds away from a winning record three games into the year.
Opening the season at home, the Knights hosted the Springfield Senators on November 23. This was the second game of the year for the visitors, who were coming off a 72-40 win over Civic Memorial.
Setting the tone for the rest of the game to come, the two teams were deadlocked after the opening quarter at 11-11. Freshman Drew Winslow led the way for Triad with 6 points in the first quarter of his high school career.
Taking a 16-12 lead early in the second quarter, Triad looked set to finally build a lasting lead. Springfield came clawing back however and once again left the teams tied at the end of the quarter, this time at 27 each. McGrady Noyes led the hosts at half with 9 points, all of which came in the second quarter.
The equal exchange of points continued into the waning seconds of the game as Triad held possession with less than 40 seconds remaining and with the game tied at 46-46. Following a timeout, Winslow drove the ball from near mid court and all the way to the hoop to give his team a two point lead with 16 seconds left.
After quickly moving down court and timeouts called by both teams, the Senators inbounded the ball with 4 seconds left on the clock. Artez Hanson let off a three point shot just before the buzzer went off and the shot fell, making Triad fall just short with a 49-48 final. The game winning shot was the only three point shot the visitors hit all night.
Atop the scorecard for the hosts was Winslow with 14, who also snagged 8 rebounds. Ayden Hitt and Noyes tied with 11 a piece for second highest in points.
The following day, Triad traveled to Granite City to take on the 1-0 Warriors. Granite City’s previous game was a 54-46 win over Taylorville.
Out of the gate, the Warriors caught fire as they leaped out to an 11-3 lead. A 10-0 Triad run, spearheaded by 4 points from Gabe Giacoletto, quickly changed the atmosphere as the Knights led 13-11.
Granite City responded with a 7-0 run of their own that stretched into the second quarter, putting them up 18-13. The teams continued their swapping of momentum as Triad went on an 8-0 flurry and Granite City scored twelve consecutive points to give the home team a 30-21 lead late in the half. Giacoletto tightened things up before half with a field goal to trim the deficit to 30-23.
After a much more back and forth third quarter, Triad had cut Granite City’s win down to 40-36. Unfortunately for the Knights, this was as close as they would get to the lead for the rest of the night as they eventually fell 55-48.
Noyes led the Knights in points, piecing together a dozen points and grabbing 7 rebounds along the way. With 10 points and 4 steals, Hitt also had a nice outing.
Two days later, the team returned to action as they visited the Civic Memorial Eagles. The contest was guaranteed to be the first win for one of the squads, as they both entered at 0-2.
From early on, Triad held control of the game. At the end of the opening quarter, they went up 17-8 and lengthened this advantage to 40-19 at halftime.
The conference foe Civic Memorial did manage to get their offense rolling in the second half, but it only resulted in the lead being reduced by one point before the game ended. By a final score of 75-55, the Knights clinched their first win of the season.
Totaling 18 points, Hitt was the high scorer for Triad in their first win. Jake Stewart also performed well as he scored 13 points to go with 5 boards and 6 steals. Also hitting double digits were Noyes at 11 and Winslow with 10 points.
Noyes also was named to the Stove Top Classic All-Tournament Team for his success over the opening week. He totaled 34 points over the course of their three games.