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Tri girls edged by Northeastern in TEC play

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Tri's Makenna Hawk (24) looks for a teammate to throw the ball to while guarded by Northeastern's Aunika Railsback (22) during Tuesday night's TEC girls basketball game at Tri. Hawk hit a trio of free throws for the Titans but Railsback tallied eight points for the Knights as Northeastern won 39-35.
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Tri sophomore Averi Phelps (42) puts up a shot against the defense of Northeastern's Emma Wright during the second half of Tuesday night's TEC girls basketball game at Tri. Phelps produced a double-double with game highs of 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Titans, but the visiting Knights won the game 39-35.
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Tri's Maddie Burchett (3) plays in-your-face defense against Northeastern's Kenzie Chasteen (12) as the Knights' Emma Wright (35) watches during Tuesday night's girls basketball game at Tri. Burchett scored nine points for the Titans but Northeastern won the TEC game 39-35.
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Tri's Chloe Gentry (21) attempts to block the shot of Northeastern's Willow Runyon (20) as the Titans' Averi Phelps (42) and the Knights' Kelli Drake (10) watch and host Tri's Auburn Harvey (15) gets into position to rebound during Tuesday night's TC girls basketball game. The Titans let a halftime lead slip way and fell to Northeastern 39-35.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

LEWISVILLE—After holding an advantage in both scoring and rebounding during the first half of Tuesday night's girls basketball game against visiting Northeastern, Tri was on the short end in both areas during the final 16 minutes of play and absorbed a 39-35 defeat at the hands of the Knights.

Northeastern improved to 3-1 in the Tri-Eastern Conference and 13-5 overall while the Titans dropped to 3-4 in the TEC and 6-9 for the season.

"We keep playing tough teams close and just can't seem to get over the hump," Tri Coach Jeff Miller said afterward. "We just need to keep coming to practice and keep working hard and maybe some of these games will fall our way."

It was the fourth straight loss for Tri and the sixth in seven decisions. The Titans again played without senior starter Kaley Harrison, who has been out with an injury since the first half of the Union County game on Dec. 12.

"Harrison is cleared to come back and play Thursday," Miller remarked. "We're not sure how much she'll play, but it'll be good to have her outside shooting back."

Things were looking pretty good for Tri at the intermission of Tuesday night's contest, as it was up 20-18 on the scoreboard and had out-boarded the Wayne County Tournament runners-up 20-16.

However, the Knights controlled the glass 18-9 in the second half, with many of those rebounds leading to second-shot opportunities or trips to the free throw line.

Another thing that hurt the Titans was cold shooting from the field, as they could manage to hit only 12 of 40 shots for 30 percent marksmanship.

Tri got a fine effort from sophomore center Averi Phelps, who recorded a double-double and posted game highs of 16 points and 13 rebounds. Take away Phelps' 7-of-12 from the floor, and the rest of the Titans managed to shoot just 5-of-28 (17.9 percent) from the field.

"It's tough for Averi when the other team is all over her because our outside shots aren't falling," Miller stated.

Northeastern opened the game with an 8-3 lead at the 3:58 mark of the first quarter, but Tri rallied with nine straight points, capped by a Chloe Gentry three-pointer, for a 12-8 advantage with 17 seconds left in the opening period.

Knights sophomore Willow Runyon buried her second trey of the quarter a second before the buzzer, and the Titans led 12-11 after one.

Phelps had five points and Maddie Burchett four to lead the hosts in the initial period, while Runyon had six for Northeastern.

The scoring pace slowed a bit in the second quarter. A Phelps bucket was answered by Runyon's third three-pointer of the contest to produce a 14-all tie with 7:07 remaining in the period.

Tri's Auburn Harvey hit her only basket of the game, a trey 20 seconds later for a 17-14 Titan lead. No one scored for over three minutes until Gentry sank the first of two free throws with 3:39 left in the first half to inch the Titan advantage up to 18-14.

The Knights' Aunika Railsback hit a pair of field goals, sandwiched around one from Tri's Phelps, and the hosts had a 20-18 lead at halftime.

Neither team shot particularly well in the opening 16 minutes, 7-of-24 for Northeastern and 7-of-26 for the Titans. Both teams hit a trio of treys in the first half, so the only difference in the score was Tri hit 3-of-5 free throws while the Knights canned their lone charity toss. Turnovers were equal at six apiece.

Northeastern came out with more energy, particularly defensively, in the third quarter, and it seemed to spark its offense as well.

While the Titans turned the ball over three times and didn't score during the first three minutes of the period, the Knights' Jenna McFarland drained a pair of free throws and Emma Wright hit a couple of buckets for a 6-0 run to put the visitors ahead 24-20 with 5:28 remaining in the quarter.

Phelps finally broke the scoreless spell for Tri with a basket at the 4:36 mark of the period, but Railsback buried a three-pointer and Wright added another bucket to give Northeastern its largest lead of the night at 29-22 with 3:40 left in the quarter.

After a Titan timeout, Phelps converted a traditional three-point play at the 2:30 mark of the period to pull the hosts to within 29-25. The visitors' Kenzie Chasteen and Tri's Burchett exchanged buckets and the Knights led 31-27 after three.

McFarland hit a basket 75 seconds into the final quarter to increase the Northeastern advantage to 33-27. Burchett hit one of two charity tosses and Phelps later added a bucket to pull Tri to within 33-30 with 4:38 left in the contest. Chasteen came back with a basket 20 seconds later to increase the visitors' lead to 35-30.

The Titans' Bayleigh Appleby drove to the basket next time down the court and was fouled hard by a Northeastern player. Appleby had to leave the game temporarily, and teammate Makenna Hawk came in to shoot the free throws and calmly buried both to pull the hosts back to within three points at 35-32 with 4:03 left on the clock.

The Knights then decided to milk the clock, but turned the ball over. Tri called timeout with three minutes left.

After the brief break, Hawk was fouled and hit the first of two free throws to pull the Titans to within 35-33 with 2:52 remaining in the game. The visitors went back to working time off the clock until Chasteen was fouled with 1:05 left.

After a Titan timeout, Chasteen missed the first of a one-and-bonus. Tri got the rebound but turned the ball over on the possession.

In the final minute, Northeastern got a free throw apiece from McFarland and Railsback, sandwiched around two more from Runyon, to build its lead back to 39-33 with 4.5 seconds remaining before Burchett tallied a bucket for Tri one second before the horn to account for the final score.

The Titans had their chances in the final period, as the Knights turned the ball over five times and hit just four of eight free throws, but the hosts also committed five miscues with the ball and were outrebounded 7-4 in the last eight minutes.

Northeastern wasn't exactly scorching the nets, as it hit 14-of-42 (33.3 percent) from the field and 7-of-13 (58.3 percent) from the foul line in the game, but it was enough to win on this night. Tri was 8-of-12 on charity tosses for 66.7 percent accuracy.

Turnovers almost were a wash, as the Titans committed 15 to 14 for the Knights.

Runyon led a balanced attack for Northeastern with 11 points, followed by nine from Wright, eight by Railsback, and seven from McFarland. Wright had 10 rebounds for the visitors. and Morgan Benjamin and McFarland had seven boards apiece.

In addition to Phelps' contributions, Burchett scored nine points for the Titans. Harvey, Gentry, and Hawk had a trio of rebounds apiece for the hosts.

Northeastern also won the junior varsity game 37-34. Anna Drake scored a game-high 17 points to lead the Knights, while Madison Hill had 11 points, Kennedy Peggs nine, and Alley Wissler eight to lead Tri.

The Titans host Anderson Prep Academy today for Senior Night, as it is their final regular season home game.

"We look at the first 21 games as preparation for the (IHSAA) tournament," Miller added. "Hopefully, we'll be a tough out when that time rolls around, and it's not far away."

Northeastern 39, Tri 35


K. Drake 0-4 0-0 0, Runyon 3-8 2-3 11, Benjamin 0-1 0-0 0, McFarland 2-8 3-4 7, Wright 4-7 1-3 9, Chasteen 2-6 0-1 4, Railsback 3-7 1-2 8, A. Drake 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 14-42 7-13 39.

TRI (35)

Burchett 3-10 2-4 9, Harvey 1-9 0-0 3, Hawk 0-1 3-4 3, Appleby 0-6 0-0 0, Phelps 7-12 2-2 16, Gentry 1-2 1-2 4, Hoover 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-40 8-12 35.



3-point goals – Northeastern 4 (Runyon 3, Railsback), Tri 3 (Burchett, Harvey, Gentry). Rebounds – Northeastern 34 (Wright 10, Benjamin 7, McFarland 7), Tri 29 (Phelps 13). Total fouls – Northeastern 14, Tri 15. Turnovers – Northeastern 14, Tri 15. JV score – Northeastern 37, Tri 34. Records – Northeastern 13-5, 3-1 TEC; Tri 6-9, 3-4 TEC.