Success in the postseason hasn’t come easy — or often — for the Triad High School girls basketball program. According to the Illinois High School Association record book, the Knights have won just one regional championship, that coming in 1983-84 when they competed as a Class A school.
Since that time, Triad has had its share of quality players and teams. Under coach Darrell Butler, the Knights won 55 games in a three year span from 1999-2002. And former coach Kris Kleeman had several outstanding seasons with Triad. The Knights were 18-5 in 2002-03 and had back-to-back years in 2008-09 and 2009-10 when Triad finished 22-5 and 24-4 respectively.
But still very little success in the postseason.
“It’s been a long time. A long drought,’’ current Triad coach Josh Hunt said. “We would like nothing better then to be the second team in school history to win a regional title.
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Seeded third in its Class 3A Sub-Sectional, Triad (23-3) begins its quest to end the 32-year regional tournament drought when it takes on sixth-seeded Mascoutah (15-12) on Wednesday in the second of two regional semifinals at the Triad Regional Tournament. Second-seed Highland (25-4) will take on either 10th-seed Jerseyville or 11th-seed Cahokia at 6 p.m. with the Triad-Mascoutah game set for 7:30 p.m.
The regional title game is set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
“We’re ready. It’s been a great regular season but this (postseason) is what we’ve been pointing towards. It was great to have a share of the (Mississippi Valley) conference title with Highland. The girls worked hard for that and know we’re working hard towards what we hope will be a nice long run in the postseason,” Hunt said. “But we’re not getting ahead of ourselves. We’re thinking about playing a very good and well-coaches team in Mascoutah on Wednesday.
The Knights are led by one of the premier Class 3A players in the state in senior Sophie Thompson. The 5-10 Thompson averages 20.3 points per game and became the top scorer in Triad girls basketball history on Thursday. Thompson, a Central Methodist University recruit, has 1,591 points heading into postseason.
Also solid contributors for Triad have been seniors Abby Burroughs and Sam Woods. The athletic Burroughs has picked up her scoring this season and is averaging 12.5 ppg, while the consistent Woods, solid at both ends of the court, is scoring at 7.5 points per game.
Junior point guard Samantha Bassler has done a masterful job of helping to run the Knights offense while Hannah Johnson (7.5 ppg.) and Morgan Chigas are also juniors who have the ability of having big offensive nights. Chigas tallied 14 points in Triad’s regular season ending 70-51 win over Waterloo.
But on the offensive end of the court, it all starts with Thompson.
“Sophie is a special talent,” Hunt said. “Her offensive skills are very good in that she can score in all three areas. She’s a great perimeter shooter. She can take the ball to the basket and she’s an excellent free throw shooter.’’
While Triad must beat a very solid Mascoutah team for a third time this season to reach the title game on Thursday, the Knights do have the advantage of playing at home against what figures to be a fellow MVC squad. Highland, ranked seventh in the Class 3A state poll and Triad, which is ranked ninth have split a pair of decisions this season
“We’re very excited about hosting the regional and we feel playing at home is an advantage,’’ Hunt said. “The girls like playing here and we’re comfortable here. Plus we’re undefeated here this year, so the girls have a lot of confidence playing on our home court. But you still have to execute on both ends of the court.’’
CLASS 3A GIRLS BASKETBALL POSTSEASON CAPSULES
Seeds: 2. Highland, 3. Triad, 6. Mascoutah, 10. Jerseyville, 11. Cahokia
Could Surprise: Triad, Mascoutah
Synopsis: Sitting at 3-3 following a five-point loss to Triad in early December, the second-seeded Bulldogs haven’t been just good in the last two months, they have been sizzling. Winners of 22 of its last 23 games, coach Mike Arbuthnot’s team has been nearly flawless as it won the Mascoutah Holiday Tournament, defeated Class 2A power Central twice and grabbed a share of the Mississippi Valley Conference championship. Like Triad, the Bulldogs have a player who can take over a game in senior guard Amanda Ponce (16.3 ppg.), a second capable scoring option in sharpshooting guard Madison Wellen (12.3) and a solid post game, which is led by junior Alex LaPorta. One of the strongest players in the MVC, LaPorta is also one of the best on the boards in the entire metro-east, averaging nearly 11 rebounds per game to go along with a 10.6 scoring average. Mascoutah (15-12), may have issues on the offensive end from time to time, but coach Terry Moeller’s squad has once again been one of the premier defensive teams in the metro-east this season. Seniors Maddie Nekola (12.8) and Katie Jokisch (8.8) make the Indians a dangerous team heading into the postseason.
Seeds: 2. Benton, 3. Herrin, 6. Waterloo, 9. Columbia, 10. Freeburg
Could Surprise: Herrin, Waterloo.
Synopsis: The Benton Rangers and Herrin Tigers face long trips from Southern Illinois next week, while Waterloo will have a 10-mile trek down the road to play in the regional, which begins on Monday when Freeburg takes on the host Eagles at 7 p.m. Waterloo (10-13) has shown signs of being a threat this season, winning the Gibault Candy Cane Classic and competing hard against MVC rivals. The Bulldogs are led by sharpshooter Taylor Augustine (10.6) and one of the top Class 3A players in the MVC in Kathryn Finnerty (10.4 ppg. and 7 rebounds). Host Columbia (15-11) has been plagued by inconsistency during the 2015-16 season. Once 10-3, Columbia lost five of six during one stretch,, but seems to be back on track with four wins in its last five games heading into the tournament, Claire Foster leads a balanced Eagles scoring attack at 10.6 ppg, while athletically gifted Kalli Farmer also is in double figures at 10.1. Progress has been good for Freeburg, which is led by former Althoff coach Lori Crunk. The Midgets (9-16) are led by sophomore Julia Whitworth (10.8) and quick Jenny Homann (7.4).
(NOTE: The Civic Memorial Eagles (19-10) are the fourth seed in the Salem Regional and will take on either Effingham or Olney in their first round game on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Salem High School. The Eagles are led by junior all-state guard Allie Troeckler (21.9 ppg.). Salem is the top seed.
CLASS 4A GIRLS BASKETBALL POSTSEASON CAPSULES
GRANITE CITY REGIONAL
Seeds: 2. Quincy Notre Dame, 3. Belleville East, 5. Chatham-Glenwood, 9. Granite City, 10. Quincy, 11. Alton
Favorite: Quincy Notre Dame
Could Surprise: Belleville East
Synopsis: The Class 2A state champions in 2011 and 2012 and Class 3A state tournament winners in Class 3A, Notre Dame has secured the No. 2 seed behind Edwardsville in this Sub-Sectional Complex and figure to be a handful for any team with its disciplined style of play. But should they meet in the regional final, Notre Dame figures to have its hands full with a Belleville East squad which took Edwardsville down to the wire and has played its best basketball during the past three weeks. The third-seeded Lancers (18-9) are led by a trio of athletic guards in senior Ellisha Davis (9.9), sophomore Myriah Haywood (9.8) and freshman Kaylah Rainey (10.2). In addition, 6-1 senior forward Morgan St. James (8.4) has really picked up her game — especially on the offensive end and on the backboards in recent weeks. Ninth-seeded Granite City and 11th seed Alton may not have the depth to win a regional title but both have premier individuals in Addaya Moore (19.0 ppg.) of Granite City and track and field star Lajarvia Brown (15.6 ppg.) of Alton.
BELLEVILLE WEST REGIONAL
Seeds: 1. Edwardsville, 4. O’Fallon, 6. Belleville West, 7. Collinsville, 8. East St. Louis
Could Surprise: O’Fallon, Belleville West, Collinsville
Synopsis: Some things never seem to change as Edwardsville is still led by one of the top coaches in the state in Lori Blade, loaded in tradition, blessed with outstanding young players and ranked as one of the top three Class 4A teams in the state. Simply put, the Tigers (26-1) are poised for another lengthy postseason run. Fresh off their seventh straight Southwestern Conference championship, Edwardsville is led by junior Makenzie Silvey (15.6 ppg.), sophomores Rachel Pranger (16.0) and Kate Martin (12.4) and hard-working junior forward Criste’on Waters (11.0.). While that quartet has done the job on the offensive end, it has also been an outstanding defensive Tigers squad.. In 19 of its 27 games, Edwardsville has allowed 40 or fewer points. Fourth seed O’Fallon (16-11) has dropped its last two games, but has played well during the second half of the season. Junior Marta Durk (13.0) leads in scoring while senior Becca Althoff (9.8) has developed into one of the premier 3-point threats in Southern Illinois. Freshman guard Jayla Stubblefield (8.0) is a player on the rise while 6-2 junior Celeste Akoro can be dominant inside. Belleville West has been plagued by injuries to senior guard Erika Harvey (10.1) and freshman Chamya Darough (12.0). But the Maroons (16-11) have the athletes to compete with anybody on a given night. Collinsville, the only team to beat Edwardsville this season, has been plagued by inconsistent play. But the Kahoks (11-15), led by Kaitlyn Fischer (11,9) have the 3-point shooters to scare any team.