DANVILLE — The Tri-County girls basketball team faced the state’s Class 1A top ranked team Friday nd fell to the Hilltoppers 81-48.
TCT’s schedule this year includes teams from each of the four IHSA classes sizes on their regular season schedule but Friday’s contest was the first to test Coach Joe Morrisey’s squad against the top ranked Danville team.
Friday’s game was a real test for Tri-County against a the top ranked and Class 1A defending state champion Schlarman Academy,.
With Tri-County came into the matchup ranked No. 7 in Class 1A. The game was a possible preview of the CLass 1A state finals next month. Though that could still remain true, Schlarman is not your normal 1A team.
The Hilltoppers (18-2 overall) routed the Titans (17-4), 81-48, in a game where Schlarman not only looked like favorites to repeat, but also like one of the state’s finest prep basketball teams regardless of class.
Loaded with several star players on their roster — most notably senior guard Anaya Peoples, a Notre Dame signee — Schlarman relentlessly attacked Tri-County with a blend of speed, agility and athleticism not often seen in small-school girls basketball.
Peoples led the charge with a game-high 30 points.
Sophomore guard Tayler Berry led the Titans with 17 points, while senior forward Kiersten Price-Wilson netted 13 points.
If the Titans are wanting to make a deep postseason run this winter, TCT Coach Joe Morrisey believes the Hilltoppers are one of the type of teams that they could see in future games.
“I guess we got educated on what the number one team in the state looks like,” Morrisey said following the game. “I figured that they’re going to be good. We just didn’t compete as hard as I thought that we would.”
Schlarman sped away to a big lead right from the start as Peoples nearly outscored Tri-County by herself in the first quarter, scoring 12 of her team’s points as the Hilltoppers led, 30-13, after the first frame and 50-27 at halftime.
Tri-County’s full-court press was fairly successful in bothering Schlarman, as the Titans forced 14 turnovers. But the Hilltoppers pressure was stronger. The Titans turned the ball over 18 times.
What arguably made the Schlarman offense so effective was their options to turn needing to put the ball in the basket.
Though the Hilltoppers gave the ball to Peoples often, three of her teammates reached double figures in scoring as well.
Two of them — senior Sydney Gouard and junior Capria Brown — are commits to Division I universities like Peoples. The former is signee to Oakland, while the latter verbally committed to Xavier last week.
“Their top six (players) are more athletic than anyone I have on the team,” Morrisey said. “We talked in the locker room after the game, though, that we’ve got to push them back and go toe-to-toe, and not let them do what they wanted to do.”