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Lady Knights deliver trio of strong scores

Photo by Anthony Jones: Sophomore Savannah Hildebrand releases a shot during her 16 point performance against Gillespie.

By Anthony Jones

Triad girls basketball first win of 2023 came with no doubt.

The Lady Knights dominated in their first win of the year on Jan. 23, when they thrashed Gillespie 49-25.

Eight points from Savannah Hildebrand was enough to outpace the Miner’s total of seven in the first quarter and Maddie Hunt tacked on six more for a 14-7 Triad lead.

Gillispie pulled within a bucket in the second quarter, but five consecutive points from Hildebrand reinforced the Lady Knight’s lead at 19-12. Ten more Triad points, coming from four players, swung their momentum into a 29-12 halftime lead.

Thirteen of the first fourteen points of the third went to the hosts, putting Gillespie well out of reach. The Lady Knights ultimately finished the third quarter up 45-19 on their way to a 49-25 victory.

Hildebrand finished with a game-high 16 points, having sunk four threes. Makenna Witham tallied eight more for Triad, while Hunt matched her total.

“We just keep getting better and better. For a team to battle resiliency and going through trials and tribulations all year, I’m really proud of the girls for coming out and playing well against a team with a winning record,” Coach Josh Hunt reacted to the winning effort.

Next on the schedule for the Lady Knights was a home contest against a 20-4 Carlyle Indians squad. 

The upset minded squad rallied late, but fell just shy at 43-39. Hildebrand and Witham tied for a Triad-best 10 points in the affair.

Their week wrapped up on Jan. 26, when the Civic Memorial Eagles visited for conference play.

Their contest with Civic Memorial also served as senior night for the fourth year duo of Alexa Holley and Sam Hartoin.

“Thursday is about two seniors who have meant a lot to our program. They dedicate a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears towards what we’re trying to get accomplished, so I’m forever in debt to those two,” Coach Hunt said earlier in the week.

Looking to avenge an earlier season 41-26 loss to the Eagles, Triad trailed just 9-6 after the end of the first quarter. This gap widened to 18-11 at the half.

A 13-5 run for Civic Memorial gave them a 31-16 lead with just over a minute left to play in the third quarter – but Triad was far from done.

Over the course of less than three minutes, they slashed their deficit down to 34-29.

With just 1:37 to play, Hildebrand closed the gap to just 37-36 off of a Hunt pass. Hunt would make the next Triad basket herself, converting from the top of the key to trail 40-39 with 11.9 seconds to play.

The Lady Knights would regain possession with the same score and Hildebrand launched a triple from the corner. Her potential game winner hit the far side of the rim, before popping out as the buzzer rang.

While the shot was ultimately unsuccessful, Coach Hunt was adamant he still fully trusts the sophomore in the clutch.

“I want her shooting that thing every single time. She’s a great shooter,” he said of Hildebrand.

The 40-39 decision marked the third consecutive loss for Triad by four points or less. Their opponents in those contests have a total of 50 wins.

“These girls will get rewarded someday for this, I promise they will. We’re going through a lot of struggles as far as results, but hopefully they see the growth they’ve made and the steps they’re making towards the positive. We’re just doing some great things and just giving really good teams all they want,” their coach remarked.


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