It wasn’t pretty at times, especially down the stretch, but the Triton Trojans girls basketball team hung tough and executed when it mattered most to escape from a nonconference matchup against NorthWood with a 41-40 win at the Trojan Trench.

While it was another great night for junior Addyson Viers, it was other players such as Jocelynn Faulkner (seven points, five assists) and Jenna Bules (eight points, six rebounds) who made the big plays down the stretch that led the Trojans to a victory that extends their win streak to three and their record to 5-1.

“I’m really proud of the girls that stepped up tonight because without them this could have gotten really bad,” Triton head coach Kennedy Krull said. “I think they did a good job of hanging on to the lead at the end but to be frank, we pulled it out.”

Defense dominated the early going as both sides reached into their bag of tricks in the infant stages of the game. Triton stuck to a zone that kept Addyson Viers attached to fellow center Claire Payne, while also having guards Kinsey Atkins and Faulkner playing a sort of free safety role at the top of the key. NorthWood initiated a full-court press after its first made shot of the night and kept it there after every basket the team put in. Once the Trojans got into the half court, two and sometimes even three Panther players would swarm Viers in the paint to attempt ball denial.

Despite the early trickery, Triton would start strong, scoring the first five points of the game on a Viers layup and Atkins three. NorthWood would get back into it quickly, scoring the next five points to tie the game. Points would begin to come at a premium towards the end of the first quarter, which the Trojans won by a score of 9-6.

Early foul trouble would rear its head in the second period. The Panthers’ attack-heavy offense focused on getting the ball in the paint and chucking it towards the net no matter the circumstances. Oftentimes the result of the play would be a foul, and Triton would accumulate eight in the first nine minutes of the game. Using some good free throw shooting and timely offense, NorthWood took its first lead of the night at 12-9. The home team would answer in a big way. Triton would go on a 9-0 run fueled by offensive rebounding by Viers, who still found ways to get looks despite the double and triple-teams. Despite the good effort, Viers would be forced to sit out the final two minutes of the half with three fouls. Others would step up in her place as the Trojans did a very good job of rebounding the ball and limiting the Panthers to just one shot per possession. The run would put the Trojans back on top, where they would remain at halftime.

“We were focused on rebounding all game with how Claire Payne can jump up and get there. For the most part, we did a really good job,” Krull said.

A great start to the third quarter would push Triton’s lead to double digits as the team started the second half on a 10-0 run. The lead would balloon to 15 as the visitors struggled getting anything to go down. NorthWood was blanked for the first six minutes of the third and things seemed to be trending the Trojans way as the two teams prepared for the final eight minutes.

“We’ve done a great job the last couple of games of coming out of halftime with some fire,” Krull said. “We know how to get it to the people that can score and if they’re not open, the girls know when it’s their turn to go to work.”

The script flipped in the fourth quarter. With Triton in foul trouble and playing conservative, NorthWood was able to take advantage. The team’s pressure inside continued, forcing Viers to foul out with four minutes remaining. Viers finished her night with 10 points and 14 rebounds. With the opposing center out of the game, Payne started to take over. Towering over the other players on the court, Payne would grab two or three offensive rebounds if necessary to get a shot to fall into the basket. The NorthWood sophomore finished with 21 points and 21 rebounds.

With the lead evaporating quickly and the team’s best two-way player out for the remainder of the contest, it was time for Triton’s other players to step up. The field goals were not there for the Trojans but the team was able to keep its lead by making free throws, including three big ones from Kinsey Atkins, and playing some tough defense. On perhaps the most important play of the game, Faulkner would tie up Payne in the post and force a jump ball with 10 seconds left, giving the ball, and game, to the home side.

Triton faces off with Trinity on the road Saturday morning.