By Anthony Jones
TROY — Triad boys basketball stands at 5-1 overall after another strong week of play.
The first week of the slate came on Nov. 28, when the then 2-1 Knights visited Columbia. Columbia held a 3-1 record entering the contest.
Baskets were exchanged at an even pace in early play, as Triad moved ahead 9-8. The Eagles rebounded to take a 12-10 lead by the end of the opening quarter before outsourcing the Knights 10-4 in the second period.
Faced with a 22-14 deficit, Triad stormed out of the break to score 12 of the half’s first 14 points. Eight of those points came from junior Ethan Stewart, including a basket that gave them a 26-24 lead.
The lead would change hands nine more times across the second half, building up to a game-tying basket by Columbia with 5.8 seconds to play. Triad’s subsequent inbound went to Landon Zawodniak, who drew a bonus foul with half a second remaining.
Zawodniak’s first attempt connected with the back of the rim and shot back out to keep the 40-40 tie intact. But his second shot touched nothing more than net, delivering a 41-40 victory for Triad.
Stewart led the team’s scoring efforts with 17 points, shattering his previous career best of 8. Drew Winslow added on 13 more.
The Knights opened their Mississippi Valley Conference schedule later in the week when they traveled to 3-2 Waterloo.
In the first quarter, the league foes found themselves tied at scores of 2, 5 and 8. But with a 10-4 rally, Triad took charge 18-12 by the period’s end.
Eleven of those points came from Stewart, who Coach Jeff Guidry had high praise for, “He’s a fierce competitor, maybe one of the fiercest competitors I’ve coached. When he gets going, it’s hard to stop him and he’s got the mindset that ‘you’ve got to stop me’. We’re going to keep feeding on that.”
Their drive rolled over into the next quarter, where they led by as much as 27-15. Waterloo erased some of that work by tallying the half’s final five points to trail by just seven.
Off the backs of their 5-0 run, the Bulldogs recorded the first nine points of the third quarter to go ahead 29-27. This marked their only lead since going ahead 2-0, but would also prove to be their last.
With seven points from Winslow, Triad would quickly regain the edge on their way to a 47-38 final. Stewart finished as the top scorer with 16 and Winslow contributed 14 more.
One key to the victory was slowing Waterloo’s duo of Alex Stell and Rodrigo Lopez Tercero, who stand at respective heights of 6’ 10” and 6’ 8”.
“Early on, we had some execution lapses at times based on what our plan was and what we were trying to do. I think in the second half we did much better,” Guidry said of containing the height-gifted duo to 23 points.
Less than 15 hours later, Triad returned to action to face the Jacksonville Crimsons on Dec. 2.
In that contest, the Knights trailed 38-37 headed to the final period before going on to win 46-42.
Owen Droy, who tallied a dozen points, became the fifth Knight to finish a game as the leading’s scorer in the road contest. Winslow added 8 more and was named as the game MVP.