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Regional rematch

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Triton Central junior guard Maya Chandler looks for an open teammate against Winchester in regional play last season. The two teams will meet again Saturday at the Speedway Regional.
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Triton Central sophomore forward Tenleigh Phelps attempts a shot near the basket last season against Winchester in regional play. The two teams will meet again Saturday at Speedway.

By KRIS MILLS - kmills@shelbynews.com

FAIRLAND — Those sitting in the stands last season during Triton Central’s regional loss to Winchester knew this meeting could very well happen again one year later.

Well, here we are.

Class 2A No. 2 Triton Central (23-1) and No. 4 Winchester (23-3), one year after a 56-32 loss for the Tigers, will meet again at the Speedway Regional Saturday in the second of two semifinals. Covenant Christian and Western Boone will play first at 10 a.m.

Entering the regional on a 16-game win streak, this season’s TC team is much different than the last, according to head coach Bryan Graham, who led the Tigers to a regional championship in 2012.

“I feel like this year’s team has a little more scoring,” Graham said. “Of course having one year of experience helps this team. Overall, I feel much more prepared.”

Triton Central, which is led in scoring by sophomore forward Tenleigh Phelps at 15.5 ppg, scores 66 points per game while only allowing 40. Winchester, on the other hand, scores 62 ppg while allowing 43.

Junior guard Maya Chandler and junior wing Rylie Stephens, in addition to Phelps, have been difficult to defend this season — especially at the same time. One game, Chandler will shine. The next? It is Stephens or Phelps. If all three are on at the same time? Good luck. 

Chandler, who was named Indiana Crossroads Conference Player of the Year, is scoring 15.1 ppg. She also adds 5.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 4.1 steals per game. Stephens is averaging 13.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. She is second on the team behind junior Grace Crist (38 threes) with 24 made shots from distance.

The play from that trio, mixed with the talented players around them, has made Triton Central nearly impossible to stop. The team has not lost since a meeting with Central Noble, the defending state champs, on Nov. 24 at New Castle.

TC sophomore point guard Taylor Heath, who did not play in the regional last season, runs the show and leads the team with 5.7 assists per game. Sophomore center Bailey Stamper, who can also step outside and hit the three, is averaging a team-high 1.3 blocks per game. Both Heath and Stamper are scoring over 5.0 ppg. 

“The key this season is the girls are working so hard,” Graham said. “They are stubborn and awnry. They hate losing. It doesn’t matter if it is a game or a drill in practice. They hate losing. When you have that ability to never give up like we have shown, that will help in the long run.”

However, Winchester also returned some talent and will be ready for a fight, as well.

Junior Maddy Lawrence, a talented wing, leads the Golden Falcons as team captain with senior Hannah Graft. The team, which is on an eight-game win streak, has four seniors and four juniors on the roster.

Individual statistics for this season were not available. Last season, Lawrence scored a team-high 19.4 ppg, while her teammates Shelby Miller, Kira Robinson and Gaft all scored over 9.0 ppg. Gaft, Miller and Robinson are now seniors. Becca Chamberlin, a junior like Lawrence, scored 8.4 ppg last season in a well-rounded lineup.

“They did not graduate any starters, they lost one senior who came off the bench last season,” Graham said. “They like to throw a lot of the junk defenses at you, they do very little man-to-man defense. Their front line is 6-3, 6-1 and 6-0. They put their little guards and have them chase your best players and put those three bigs in the middle in a triangle. Basically, they are saying if you are going to beat us, you are going to beat us on jumpers.”

Winchester’s only losses this season came to 2A No. 3 Oak Hill and two teams from out of the state in Centerville (Ohio) and Chicago Marshall (Illinois).

Last season, the Golden Falcons made it all the way to the IHSAA State Finals before losing to Central Noble by four points.

"My assistant coaches have done a great job of scouting and seeing them live. We know what they want to do,” Graham said. “But we don’t want to overload. We are going to have to make a few adjustments just like they are going to have to do with us. We are going to have to show up and play well.”

Covenant Christian vs. Western Boone

Covenant Christian is 18-8 and ranked No. 13 in Class 2A. Western Boone, however, has a high-scoring guard in senior Madison Jones, who averages 29 points per game. Jones has scored over 40 points four times this campaign with a season-high 59 points against North Montgomery. The Stars are 16-9 this season.

Kris Mills is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Kris on Twitter @KrisMills37.

SPEEDWAY REGIONAL

Covenant Christian (18-8) vs. Western Boone (16-9)

GAME TIME: 10 am ET, Speedway.

COACHES: Amanda Brown, 34-18 in 2nd year at Covenant Christian. Megan Alexander, 27-22 in 2nd year at Western Boone.

SAGARIN RATINGS: Western Boone, 76.45, 76th overall, 9th in 2A. Covenant Christian, 69.62, 119th overall, 16th in 2A.

LAST OUTING: Covenant Christian defeated Indianapolis Shortridge, 61-34. Western Boone defeated Cloverdale, 62-56.

VS. COMMON FOES: Covenant Christian 0-2; Western Boone 1-1.

OPPONENTS' RECORDS: Covenant Christian 316-268. Western Boone 329-277.

SERIES LAST 15 YEARS: No meetings.

PREDICTION: Western Boone, 57-50.

Triton Central (23-1) vs. Winchester (23-3)

GAME TIME: noon ET, Speedway.

COACHES: Bryan Graham, 216-49 in 11th year at Triton Central. Holly Gutierrez, 81-24 in 4th year at Winchester, 145-71 in 9th year overall.

SAGARIN RATINGS: Triton Central, 86.36, 25th overall, 2nd in 2A. Winchester, 81.37, 55th overall, 5th in 2A.

LAST OUTING: Triton Central defeated Shenandoah, 60-34. Winchester defeated Northeastern, 72-47.

VS. COMMON FOES: Triton Central 1-0; Winchester 1-0.

OPPONENTS' RECORDS: Triton Central 327-245. Winchester 304-234.

SERIES LAST 15 YEARS: Winchester, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Winchester, 56-32, Feb. 10, 2018, regional.

PREDICTION: Triton Central, 56-50.

Speedway Regional

Game 1: Western Boone vs. Covenant Christian, 10 a.m. 

Game 2: No. 2 Triton Central vs. No. 4 Winchester, noon

Championship: 7:30 p.m. on Saturday