By Anthony Jones
TROY — A pair of local opponents filled out Triad’s girls basketball schedule last week.
The first regional showdown came on Dec. 12, as the Lady Knights tested their 6-3 record against the 6-3 Kahoks in Troy. Collinsville entered on a three-game win streak and Triad’s most recent action was a 66-29 setback against Civic Memorial.
In a first quarter that featured six lead changes, the Kahoks ended with an 11-10 lead. Talesha Gilmore, Collinsville’s leading scorer on the year, finished with eight points across the first eight minutes.
Triad regained the upper hand to start the second quarter up 15-11, as Savannah Hildebrand and McKenna Witham both grew their point totals to six. This lead held true until intermission, when they led 24-20.
At the break, Gilmore led all scorers with 12 points, all of which came from the field. Ella Guerrero provided Collinsville’s eight other first half points.
For Triad, Hildebrand led their early scoring efforts with 12 points, nine of which came in the second frame.
Kicking off the third quarter, the Kahoks scored the first five points to take charge at 25-24. A 9-4 run and multiple lead changes later, Collinsville built their biggest lead of the day at 34-28 with three and a half minutes left in the third.
As was often the case throughout the night, momentum once again shifted as the Lady Knights responded with nine consecutive points to regain the lead at 37-34 in the fourth quarter. Seven of those Triad points came from Erica Boyce, who was previously scoreless.
With just inside of two minutes remaining, Gilmore took Collinsville’s only trip to the free throw line of the game to cut the Triad lead down to 40-39. This, however, proved to be the visitor’s last point of the day as they went on to lose in a 48-39 final.
Coach Josh Hunt remarked of the comeback win, “We finished the game on a 20-5 run, so I’m proud of the girls in that aspect. We didn’t shoot it well from three but to our credit, we did enough to get a win against a team that had two dynamic players. [Gilmore] is a load and then [Gurrero] can shoot it. She did great from the perimeter.”
Gilmore finished with a game-high 23 points and 10 rebounds for her seventh double-double of the year. With a four of seven day from beyond the arc, Guerrero tacked on 14 more for the Kahoks.
Tallying 18 points, Hildebrand led the Triad offense. Her scoring across the day came in a balanced fashion, scoring twice from beyond the arc, converting four more field goals and four free throws.
The Lady Knights overall finished with a less three-reliant attack than usual in the win, something Coach Hunt continues to see progress on.
“We want to shoot a lot more free throws. We’ve just got to attack-attack-attack and we’re not doing that quite enough. When you attack, all of a sudden the open threes become available and those are good shots for us as well,” their manager said.
Three days later, Triad hit the road to visit 5-6 Highland. Despite their overall losing record, the Bulldogs had won their first three Mississippi Valley Conference bouts.
A fast start for the home side saw them jump out to an early 13-2 advantage. By the end of the opening quarter, they had taken charge at a 17-5 tally.
With a triple from Witham, the Lady Knights cut their deficit to 17-8 at the second quarter’s open. This was as close as they would get before ultimately finding themselves in a 29-10 hole at the break.
In the second half, Highland outpaced Triad 35-29 to grab a 64-39 victory. The Bulldog victory tied them for first-place in the MVC with Civic Memorial with 4-0 starts, while Triad dropped to 2-2 and third-place.
With 21 points, Witham led the Lady Knights in scoring.