By Anthony Jones
The final home regular season games for Triad basketball came and went last week as the boys team battled both Highland and Mascoutah.
A showdown with rival Highland kicked off the week on February 8. This was a rematch from an early season 55-54 loss for Triad.
The first quarter pointed to yet another close game between the Mississippi Valley Conference foes, as they finished it at 11-11. At half time, Highland had built themselves an edge as they led 21-18.
Jake Ottensmeier led all scorers at the half with 8 for the Bulldogs. Freshman Drew Winslow led the Knights in scoring with 7 points.
With a strong defensive stretch, the Bulldogs began to build some breathing room in the third quarter. They outscored the host 8-3 over this stretch, giving them an 8 point lead.
Highland’s lead would hold through the rest of the night and they finished with a 39-30 victory.
Three days later, Triad hit their home court again as they battled with MVC foe Mascoutah.
Out of the gate, the Knights got off to a slow start and fell behind 13-6 after one quarter of play. The hosts pulled the game within three to start the second quarter, but come halftime they were trailing 21-12.
In the second half, Triad managed to build some momentum however and cut their deficit to 27-23 late in the third quarter. The teams continued to trade shots back and forth into the fourth quarter, where the hosts were behind 33-27.
Unfortunately for the Knights, this is as close as they would get as they went on to fall by a final score of 49-41.
Triad’s Coach Jeff Guidry was proud of his team’s improvement against Mascoutah after falling 63-39 earlier in the year, “They haven’t been held to fewer than 50 points very often this year, so I thought we did a tremendous job on the defensive end. We got back in transition, which is our best game and they struggled a little bit against it. I think if we have a few more shots fall, it’s a different game.”
Last week also brought big news as playoff brackets were released and the bracket makers did Triad no favors. The sixth seeded Knights are the highest ranked team in Class 3A to have a play-in game to kick off the playoffs, as they are slated to take on Cahokia on February 19 at Triad.
The Knight’s draw does not get any easier from there. If they win against Cahokia, they would then have to make a February 23 trip to Cahokia High School to play the East St. Louis Flyers. In the most recent AP Poll, the Flyers checked in as the fourth ranked team in all of 3A.
“It’s kind of on us because we didn’t put ourselves in position to get one of the top three seeds that we wanted, but at the same time I’m kind of struggling with the logic behind the sixth seed playing a play-in. But it’s nothing we can control, we just gotta go out and do what we have to do,” Coach Guidry said of his team’s challenging position in the brackets.
The team’s showdown with Mascoutah also doubled as senior night for the team’s lone senior, Gabe Giacoletto.
“Gabe’s been around since I got here three years ago,” Triad’s Head Coach said, “I tell the younger guys that Gabe is a great leader and is a guy that paid his dues and waited his time. He’s had a great season for us and we’re happy for him and everything he’s going to do in the future. He’s one of the nicest kids and hardest working kids we’ve had.”