By Anthony Jones
The stakes were high when Triad basketball marched onto the court last Friday.
Their lead over the Mississippi Valley Conference hung in the balance and the game was the Knights last chance to impress before the playoff seeding process began.
But above all that, it was a chance to take down rival Highland on the road.
Triad, looking to end a four game skid against the Bulldogs, jumped out to an early 6-0 lead that featured a rim-shaking dunk from Jake Stewart. The latter minutes of the first frame were better for the home side, who tied the contest at 9-9.
Fans of defense had an even better second quarter, as the rivals combined for nine points. Five of those tallies went in the Knights favor after AJ Mills made the team’s lone first half triple.
“We got off to a great, fast start which is what we were shooting for. Both teams in the first half were struggling to score. Our defense does a lot for that, but we weren’t hitting any buckets. We responded at halftime, it wasn’t a pretty halftime in the locker room, and they came out and responded,” Triad Coach Jeff Guidry spoke of his squad’s 14-13 start.
Another key story of the first 16 minutes was Triad sophomore being forced to leave the action multiple times to retape his stint over an injured finger.
“It was frustrating going back in and out in and out trying to get this back on, but during the game I didn’t really have time to think about it,” Winslow remarked on the adhesive issue that limited him to five points in the opening quarters.
It would take just three minutes and fifteen seconds for him to double his point total in the third period, pushing his team ahead 21-19. Winslow finished the third with a total of eight points and McGrady Noyes added six more to give their side a 31-22 advantage.
Highland would not get within six points of Triad for the rest of the game, going on to lose 50-37.
Winslow finished with a team-high 20 points after going eight for eight inside the arc.
Noyes, a senior, remarked on scoring a victory over their bitter foes, “It definitely feels good. This was definitely a big game for us we had marked on our calendars.”
With their victory, the Knights improved to 22-6 and 7-1 in conference play. Their record in league play presents them with a chance to clinch sole possession of the conference crown when they visit second place Mascoutah on Feb. 10.
Triad defeated the Indians 47-33 earlier this season, but knows scoring their first win at Mascoutah since 2017 is a different task entirely.
“It’s tough to win at Mascoutah, we haven’t won there since I’ve been here. I think it’s going to be a battle and it’s going to be a very rowdy environment,” Coach Guidry previewed the key road trip.
Noyes added about the matchup with the Indians, “Definitely a big game. We want to win the conference, so we know we need that one and we know it’s not an easy place to play.”
Triad also scored a win over the SIUE Charter Cougars last week in 60-25 fashion. Noyes finished with 16 and Aydin Hitt tallied 15 in a game with 13 Knights scoring.