With a combined record of 15-3 headed into their matchups with the Knights, both the Mascoutah Indians and Freeburg Midgets provided a tough stretch of action for Triad last week.
Their Mississippi Valley Conference battle was their first game of the week, as they made the trip down to Mascoutah on December 21. Entering the contests, the Indians lone loss of the season came in 62-51 fashion against the O’Fallon Panthers.
Three early points from Lane Mahnesmith gave an early lead to the visiting Knights, but those would be their only points in the opening frame. A strong defensive effort kept the game tight however as they only trailed 8-3 after the first 8 minutes of action.
Mascoutah broke through in the second quarter, outsourcing their foes 18-6. This gave them a 26-9 advantage at the intermission.
The third quarter saw Triad’s offense come to life, as they more than doubled their total score to 25 points. This failed to make up any ground however, as the host dropped 23 more points to go up 49-25. The Knights did chip away at their disadvantage in the final quarter, but still lost by a sizeable margin at 64-39.
Shooting an impressive 80% from the field, Mahnesmith led the way for Triad in scoring after racking up 9 points. Junior Jake Stewart was just behind him with a tally of 8 points.
Three days later, the Knights were back in action on their home court. The visiting Freeburg Midgets entered after losing 54-50 to Breese Central, a team that the Knights had lost to by 13 points earlier in the year.
Fueled by a dozen points from Ayden Hitt, Triad charged out to an early lead at 19-9 at the end of the first quarter. The first point in the game that the Midgets totaled more points than Hitt was with 5:23 left in the second quarter when they hit a three point shot to cut their deficit down to 21-13.
Momentum continued to shift in the visitors favor as they extended their run to 11-2 and trailed only 21-20 late in the second frame. At the end of the first half, Triad clung to a 26-23 lead.
The third quarter provided yet another dramatic change in the game, as the Knights outscored their opponents 16-4. Both Hitt and McGrady Noyes outscored Freeburg in the quarter, each scoring 6 points.
In the final 8 minutes of action, the hosts put the icing on the cake as they outpaced the Midgets 11-7. This gave them a final score of 53-34.
“We’ve talked all week about how we’ve got to learn how to win and we can’t just be satisfied with competing against good teams. We’ve got to learn how to win against good teams and I think they showed that tonight. They made their run in the second quarter and we got a little down but we responded well and had a great second half where we held them to no field goals in the third quarter. I’m really proud of them and Freeburg is a good team and that’s a good win for us,” Triad Head Coach Jeff Guidry said of his team’s victory.
Draining 6 of 9 shots from deep, Hitt put on a scoring clinic for Triad as he recorded 23 points. Stewart once again scored 9 points for the Knights and Noyes neared a triple double with 8 points, rebounds, and assists.
Next up for the Knights is the Prairie Farms Holiday Classic hosted at Collinsville High School, featuring an armada of talented teams. The field of competitors includes Wasilla, who will make the long trip from their home state of Alaska.
The tournament is something Coach Guidry looks forward to for his team, “I think it’s a great event. It’s probably one of the best holiday tournaments in the Midwest and every year I ask our guys if they want to keep playing it and they say yeah. Of course we got a tough draw with O’Fallon, one of the top five teams in 4A in the state. It’s going to be a lot of fun and I tell the guys those are moments and experiences you’re going to tell your kids you got to do so we’re going to come out, give a battle and hopefully come out there with a few wins.”