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Winning together

The Triton Central basketball team during a timeout on Thursday against Speedway. The Tigers won their season opener, 99-44.

By KRIS MILLS - kmills@shelbynews.com

FAIRLAND — It was just one game. But the Triton Central basketball team might be better than advertised.

Entering the season as the No. 1 team in Class 2A, the Tigers looked the part of a top-ranked team — and more — in a 99-44 season-opening win Thursday against Speedway.

One might expect the No. 1 team in its class to earn a blowout win early in the season. But scoring 99 points with the team’s starters seeing limited action? That was not expected.

TC head coach Bryan Graham said after the win that this is the deepest team he has had as head coach of the Tigers. That would be hard to argue.

Triton Central had five players, two who came off the bench, reach double figures Thursday. Junior forward Tenleigh Phelps was dominant inside, finishing with 20 points to lead all scorers. Senior starters Rylie Stephens and Maya Chandler added 14 and 12 points, respectively, while junior Kenzie Ryle and freshman Lizzie Graham scored 13 and 10 points off the bench.

The Tigers played 13 girls in the win with everyone making some sort of contribution.

"One through 20, this is the deepest team we have had," Graham said. "Girls who may be 16 or 17 on the roster would normally be in the top 10. That is how deep we are. Tonight it (depth) allowed some starters to get some early rest. We took our varsity (rotation) out with two minutes to play in the third."

Last season, TC beat Speedway 69-26. So what was the difference on Thursday? TC, in addition to sharing the basketball, forced the Sparkplugs into 35 turnovers.

"It was our defense, and we shared the ball well," Graham said. 

Phelps, who reached 20 points with 3:49 to play in the third quarter, helped her team outscore the visitors 33-4 in the third. Holding a 50-21 halftime lead, TC came out of the break and shot 13 of 17 from the field in the third period. The Tigers led 29-9 after the first quarter.

For the game, TC shot 39 of 61 from the field (64 percent percent) and finished with eight made threes.

Senior Grace Crist, junior Taylor Heath and freshman Hallie Schweitzer all added six points for the Tigers (1-0), while Stephens finished with a team-high seven rebounds.

Speedway (0-1) actually outscored TC 19-16 in the fourth quarter but it did not matter. The damage had already been done.

This type of game — a lopsided win — will likely happen again. That said, Graham wants his team to simply worry about getting better each night. 

"For us moving forward, we need to worry about how we are playing and not who we are playing," Graham said. 

Next up: Triton Central returns to action on Saturday on the road at North Decatur.

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