FAIRLAND – Class 2A, No. 11 Triton Central opened the fourth quarter in grave danger Tuesday against No. 8 Eastern Hancock in the Sectional 42 opener.
Senior Lizzie Graham was out of the game with a foot injury and two more starters had three fouls against a confident Royals squad that led 33-29 with eight minutes to go.
Triton Central dug deep and opened the final frame with a 9-2 run to take a 38-35 lead midway through the quarter but the lead never grew to two possessions and Eastern Hancock capitalized.
The Royals outscored the Tigers 14-6 over the final four minutes to secure the program’s second-straight sectional win over Triton Central and advance to Friday’s semifinal round with a 49-44 victory.
Eastern Hancock (20-3), now with a program-record 20 wins, will face Irvington Prep (1-10) while Indianapolis Scecina (11-11) takes on Indianapolis Riverside (2-15). The championship game is Saturday at 7 p.m.
Ruby White scored 10 of her team-high 15 points in the fourth quarter and had six rebounds, including two offensive that she scored on, to lead the Royals.
“I thought we did a really good job of containing (Sammie) Bolding and (Grace) Stapleton but that is what makes them a good team,” said Triton Central head coach Bryan Graham. “They have those three weapons. We took away two of three and did a pretty good job, but the one (White) stepped up there in the fourth.”
Trailing by three points, White, a six foot, one-inch junior, took over. She scored on an offensive rebound to cut the TC lead to 38-37.
Emma Bolding sank a baseline jumper to get the Royals the lead for the final time. White followed with a 17-foot jumper from just beyond the free-throw line then pump-faked the same shot on the next possession and drove to the rim and scored.
A three-point deficit quickly turned into a five-point lead – the biggest of the game for either team.
Graham (photo), who returned in the fourth quarter, drove into the lane and scored to stop the Royals’ 8-0 run.
“I thought she was done,” admitted Bryan Graham after seeing his daughter carried off the floor to the trainer’s room late in the third quarter. “I knew it was her ankle (injured) and not her knee -- that made me feel a little bit better.”
Emma Bolding matched the move at the other end of the floor and Eastern Hancock led 45-40 with 1:55 to go.
Maryrose Felling (main photo) hit a pair of free throws to get the lead back down to three but White scored on another offensive rebound.
Hallie Schweitzer (photo) drove into the lane and scored for the final time in her TC career to make it 47-44 with 55 seconds on the clock.
Grace Stapleton, who finished with nine points, eight rebounds and five assists, missed back-to-back free throws to give the Tigers hope but the offense could not deliver.
Graham had a chance to tie the game with a late 3 from the top of the key that rattled out and closed TC’s shooting performance from beyond the arc at 1-for-13.
Stapleton hit two free throws at the other end to then seal the victory.
Felling, a freshman, led Triton Central with 15 points.
“Her talent level and IQ will just continue to get better and grow,” said Graham of Felling, who scored just short of 300 points in her first season as a Tiger.
Brooklyn Bailey finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. Schweitzer added 12 points, five rebounds and two assists.
Triton Central, led by seniors Graham, Schweitzer and Riley Ross, finished the season 18-5 – the program’s seventh consecutive season with at least 18 wins.
TC will return Bailey and Felling as well as juniors Kennedy Brown and Hailey Harris and turn to a successful junior varsity program to reload for another season.
“Brooklyn will be that key piece in the middle and Maryrose will be up top,” said Graham. “So right away you have a good 1-2 punch. And then you throw in a Hailey Harris and Kennedy Brown, who do all the little things right all the time.”
Bryan Graham closes out his 15th season as the head coach at Triton Central with 299 wins against just 65 losses.
Steve Bush photos
Eastern Hancock 49, Triton Central 44
EH: Stapleton 2-10 3-6 9, S. Bolding 2-12 2-2 8, E. Bolding 4-10 3-4 11, White 7-11 1-2 15, O’Neal 0-2 0-0 0, Springman 0-0 0-0 0, Willis 1-3 0-0 2, Meyer 2-2 0-0 4. Totals: 18-50 9-14 49.
TC: Schweitzer 5-11 2-2 12, Graham 1-11 2-2 4, Brown 0-1 0-0 0, Felling 6-13 3-3 15, Bailey 4-5 4-5 13, Harris 0-1 0-0 0, Ross 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-42 11-12 44.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
EH (20-3) 13 7 13 16 -- 49
TC (18-5) 11 8 10 15 -- 44
Three-point field goals: EH 4-20 (Stapleton 2-10, S. Bolding 2-9, O’Neal 0-1), TC 1-13 (Schweitzer 0-2, Graham 0-4, Brown 0-1, Felling 0-4, Bailey 1-2). Rebounds: EH 32 (Stapleton 8, S. Bolding 2, E. Bolding 4, White 9, O’Neal 2, Willis 5, Meyer 2), TC 26 (Schweitzer 5, Graham 3, Brown 4, Felling 3, Bailey 9, Ross 2). Assists: EH 14 (Stapleton 5, S. Bolding 3, E. Bolding 2, White 1, O’Neal 1, Willis 2), TC 5 (Schweitzer 2, Brown 2, Felling 1). Steals: EH 3 (S. Bolding 1, White 2), TC 2 (Schweitzer 1, Bailey 1). Blocks: EH 3 (S. Bolding 1, White 1, Willis 1). Total fouls: EH 10, TC 11. Turnovers: EH 8, TC 10.
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