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Knights drops Regional versus Flyers

By Anthony Jones

sports.times.tribune@gmail.com

TROY — For the fourth consecutive postseason, Triad boys basketball has been eliminated by East St. Louis.

Their most recent tiff with the Flyers came on Feb. 23 in the Class 3A Jersey Regional Final.

The postseason matchup was primarily a defensive struggle in the early going, with a Drew Winslow basket keeping the Knights within an 8-2 gap. Tyler Thompson netted the first quarter’s final points from the line to pull Triad within 8-4.

Scoring picked up in the following period, largely thanks to nine made free throws. Five of those came from Triad’s Winslow, who produced all 11 of his team’s second quarter points.

East St. Louis leaned on a more balanced attack to extend their lead to 24-15 at the break.

Much of the Knights’ early struggles could be attributed to missing all nine of their first half three-point tries. Triad, who entered with a season shooting percentage over thirty-five percent from beyond the arc, finished the night two of 23 from deep.

“We really did a good job of executing our game plan, but part of that plan was being able to hit shots. We knew we would get open looks, we knew we’d be able to guard him in the half court  and we got a lot of open looks. Sometimes it doesn’t go in and we’re a pretty good shooting team, it’s just part of the game,” Coach Jeff Guidry said of his time failing to sink a trey until the final two minutes of the third quarter.

When Ethan Stewart finally ended the three-point drought, the Knights stood deep in a 40-22 hole.

Across the final ten minutes of action, Triad’s deficit would range between 19 and 23 points. East St. Louis went on to win in a 58-39 final.

With a final tally of 18 points, Winslow closed the night as the top-scoring Knight. Thompson also hit double-digits with 11 in the loss.

Coach Guidry spoke about his team’s progress towards taking on powerhouse programs such as East St. Louis in the postseason,“We’re close and we’re getting closer. Getting closer is little things we’ve got to be able to get better at and the self-inflicted mistakes we put on ourselves sometimes in these situations.”

Triad, who finished the season with a 21-11 record, earned their spot in the Regional Final by defeating Civic Memorial 43-26 two days prior.

The matchup between Mississippi Valley Conference foes marked the first since the Eagles scored a 47-46 victory on a buzzer-beating three pointer on Jan. 26.

Their postseason victory over the Eagles saw the Knights jump out to a 13-8 lead after one frame of play. Thompson knocked down a pair of threes to bolster his team’s early head start.

In the second quarter, Civic Memorial quickly started to see the gap widen.

While the Eagles were held scoreless through the second quarter, the Knights added to the deficit. Their halftime advantage settled at 26-8, capitalized by a step-back triple from Thompson in the final seconds.

Triad’s manager credited dominance on the glass for the defensive success, “We did a tremendous job rebounding. Last time, they just out toughed us and they got a lot of buckets off offensive rebounds. I think we held them to four second chance points tonight.”

The Knights’ momentum fully converted into the second half, with them extending their lead to 37-16 after the third and ultimately a 43-26 victory.

Thompson and Winslow each produced 14 points in the Triad win.

Drew Winslow draws a foul in a physical game versus East St. Louis. (Photo by Anthony Jones)

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