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Triad Basketball hits 20 Wins at Jersey

By Anthony Jones

TROY — For the first time in 14 years, Triad has recorded consecutive 20 win seasons on the basketball court.

“I think anytime you can get to 20 wins, that’s a success. Especially when we lost 80-85% of our production from last year and to be able to turn right around and get another 20 wins against our schedule, we’re really proud,” Coach Jeff Guidry spoke of hitting the milestone for the third time in five seasons at Triad.

Their 20th victory of the campaign came by way of the team’s regular season finale, when they visited Jersey. The then 19-10 Knights had previously defeated the 11-19 Panthers 57-33 on Jan. 5.

Triad’s first nine points came from senior Landon Zawodniak, who knocked down a trio of three-pointers to take a 9-5 lead. An Isaac Ackerman triple at the end of the opening quarter left the visitors ahead 16-11.

With a 5-1 run to start the second period, the Knights led by as many as nine points. Their Mississippi Valley Conference foe retaliated with a 5-0 run to end the half within striking range of 21-17.

Coach Guidry recounted the critical opening to the second half, “Knowing that they hit a big shot and they were getting the ball back, we had to get a stop on that first possession. After that, it was just momentum and we just picked up our aggressiveness some and started playing a little more physical like we normally do.”

Triad went on to score the second half’s first 11 points to take a 32-17 lead. Through the third frame, the Panthers were held to a pair of free throws.

With a triple at the buzzer, Ethan Stewart extended the Knight advantage to 37-19 by the end of the third quarter. The junior Knight tallied 8 points in the period after previously being held scoreless.

Jersey chipped away at the deficit in the final section of play but ultimately found themselves on the losing side of a 45-31 final.

Triad’s Drew Winslow led the team with a dozen points in the victory. With a tally of 10 points, Zawodniak was the only other Knight to hit double-digits.

The win marked Triad’s third consecutive to close out the regular season. It was also the team’s fifth consecutive outing with no player breaking 14 points.

“We’re better when we’re more balanced. If you look at the good teams, the ones that are hard to plan for are the teams that have three or four guys in that double digit range. The goal this year is to get three guys in that 10 to 14 point range,” Triad’s manager spoke of their balanced scoring.

Postseason play is all that remains for the hooping Knights.

Triad, who earned a fourth-seed, earned a matchup with seventh-seeded Civic Memorial. That regional semifinal is set for 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 21 at Jersey.

The Knights and Eagles have already met thrice this season, with Triad winning the first two meetings by double digits. Civic Memorial won the most recent bout, when they earned a 47-46 upset on a buzzer beating triple.

Coach Guidry spoke of their fourth meeting with the Eagles, “After last time, I think the guys are really looking forward to it and there was a sense of excitement when they saw the draw from that standpoint. They’re still a tough team, they’re going to come out and play physical and throw all kinds of different things at us.”

With a win, the Knights would advance to the Jersey Regional final on Feb. 23. There, they would meet the winner of top-ranked East St. Louis and eighth-seeded Jersey.

Landon Zawodniak advances through a void in the Jersey defense. (Photo by Anthony Jones)

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