TROY — Triad continued its pursuit for a Mississippi Valley girls’ basketball championship and deflated Civic Memorial’s spoiler shot Thursday.
The Knights defeated the Eagles, 52-45, and remained knotted with rival Highland for the top spot in the Valley. Both teams have one league loss. Triad improved to 20-3 overall and 7-1 in the MVC by beating CM for the second time this season. The Eagles dropped to 17-10 and 4-4.
“We didn’t play well enough to win,” Eagles’ coach Jonathan Denney said. “Triad executed and defended and we dug ourselves a big hole early in the game. Our effort was much better in the second half, but we needed to play like that in the first half.”
A sluggish start, marred by too many turnovers, doomed the Eagles. They fell behind 14-8 by the end of the first quarter and 35-21 at half. CM, which once trailed 27-10, committed 14 of its 21 turnovers before the break.
“We executed our game plan and our guards handled their guards,” Knights’ coach Josh Hunt said. “We played well in the first half and it was one of our better starts to a game. I think our best one was when we got ahead of Collinsville, 17-0.”
Abby Burroughs, a 6-foot-1 senior, pointed the Knights in the right direction. Burroughs, who seems to save her best efforts for the Eagles, scored 16 of her game-best 21 points the first half. Burroughs hit for 15 points on Dec. 7, when Triad defeated the Eagles, 45-41, in Bethalto.
“She’s a really good athlete that can do a lot of things,” Hunt said. “And I think that Sam Woods did an excellent job guarding (Allie) Troeckler.”
Woods tallied 10 points, as did teammate Sophie Thompson. Troeckler, a 5-10 junior and Class 3A All-Stater, led the Eagles with 16 points, 7 in the fourth quarter.
Katelyn Turbyfill (8 points) and Kaylee Eaton (7 points, all in the second quarter) complemented Troeckler’s scoring. The Eagles made 17 of 39 shots and 7 of 11 free throws.
“We made a run at them, but it’s disappointing when you do that and then make unforced turnovers,” Denney said. “Triad’s a great team and their first half was the best that anybody has played against us this season.
“There’s a reason they are going for the Valley championship and this game meant more to them than to us in the conference.”
CM, which limited Triad to four points in the third quarter, closed to within 39-32 by the end of it. Yet the Knights stretched their lead to 46-34 midway through the fourth quarter and the Eagles got no closer than 7 points.
The winners hit 15 of 33 shots and 18 of 27 free throws, including 7 in the fourth quarter. The Knights Big 3 of Burroughs, Thompson and Woods combined for all but 11 of their points.
“When we get three players all going at once on offense, we are pretty tough to beat,” Hunt said.
The Eagles still have conference dates remaining Monday at Mascoutah and Thursday at home against Jersey before competing in postseason play. They are seeded fourth in Sub-Sectional B of the Salem Sectional. The IHSA is expected to release the pairings Friday.
Salem earned the No. 1 seed, followed by Highland and Triad. Since Salem and Triad are sub-sectional sites, CM figures to be playing its sub-sectional — or regional games — at Salem.
Before the Knights start thinking about the postseason, they have three regular-season games remaining — two against MVC foes. Triad entertains Jersey on Monday, welcomes Freeburg on Tuesday in a nonconference contest and then closes its slate at home Thursday with Waterloo.
TRIAD 52, CM 45
CM 8 13 11 13 — 45
Triad 14 21 4 13 — 52
CM (17-10, 4-4) — Allie Troeckler 16, Journey Coffman 5, Kaylee Eaton 7, Katelyn Turbyfill 8, Alaira Tyus 5, Kalyn Troxell 4. 2FG-13 3FG-4 FT-7 PF-22
Triad (20-3, 7-1) — Abby Burroughs 21, Sam Woods 10, Sophie Thompson 10, Hannah Johnson 5, Samantha Bassler 5, Morgan Chigas 1. 2FG-11 3FG-4 FT-18 PF-14