Slowed down by the patience and well-run offense of the Mascoutah Indians in the first half, the Triad Knights needed a lift when they took the floor for the start of the third quarter on Thursday at Triad High School.
And senior Sophie Thompson provided one.
Held to just six shots and five points in the first two quarters, Thompson made her first six shots of the second half to spark a 24-7 scoring run and Triad went on for a 52-38 win in a Mississippi Valley Conference victory.
With senior Katie Jokisch scoring eight of her 10 points and Indian guards Kennedy Bryant and Amaya Keeling combining to hold the high-scoring Thompson to just five points and six shots, the Indians (2-4, 10-8) led 19-15 at halftime.
But when Knights coach Josh Hunt had his team apply more defensive pressure, it opened up the court, changed the game to a faster tempo and gave the 5-10 Thompson room to operate.
Thompson scored the first 10 points of the third quarter as Triad (14-2, 6-1) took a 25-19 lead.
“No. 23 is pretty good isn’t she? I think she’s had a pretty good career here at Triad High School,’’ Knights coach Josh Hunt said when asked about Thompson. “The thing about Sophie is that for her its all about the success of the team.’’
Thompson, who became the second leading scorer in Triad history on Monday, led the way with 25 points. She now has 1,364 points for her career.
Thompson started the third quarter with her second 3-point basket of the night and following a missed shot by Keeling, the Knights senior scored on a short jumper from the lane to give the Knights only their second lead of the game.
Playing a faster tempo created by Triad’s increased pressure, the Indians had two turnovers on their next three possessions. Following a second short jumper, Thompson brought a large Knights crowd to their feet with a second 3-point basket. With still over five minutes remaining in the period, Triad led 25-19. They would never trail again.
“Give Mascoutah and coach (Terry) Moeller credit. They had the tempo slow in the first half and we had to find a way to speed up the tempo,’’ Hunt said. “We create a lot of our points with out defense anyway and so we were able to open up the court, create some turnovers and get some transition baskets.’’
Mascoutah senior Tennaye Green broke the Knights scoring run, scoring off a strong move in the post, and Jokisck scored again as the Indians closed to within two points but Triad got a 5-foot jumper from senior Abby Burroughs and 3-point jumpers from Morgan Chigas and Samantha Bassler late in the period.
Triad led 36-26 after three quarters and when Thompson opened the fourth quarter with her fifth and final 3-point basket of the night, Triad had its biggest lead of the night at 13 points.
Lost in the shuffle of Thompson’s brilliance was the play of Mascoutah’s inside duo of Jokisch and Green, who combined for 23 of Mascoutah’s 38 points.
“We’ve been very pleased with the progress of Tennaye (Green) in recent weeks,’’ Indians coach Terry Moeller said. “I thought we played pretty well in the first half. But you have to be able to put two good halves together and we didn’t do that.’’