The Trenton Lady Bulldogs came into Thursday night’s Class 3 state semifinal filled with confidence, with a #1 ranked, three-time defending championship team from Strafford High School taking on THS in a #1 vs. #2 ranked showdown at JQH Arena in Springfield.
In the battle of unbeatens, heard on Hot Country Z 101.7, Strafford showed its dominance early, ripping off 10 straight points to stun the GRC champion Lady Bulldogs. However, indicative of Trenton’s season-long resolve, the Lady Bulldogs got off the mat with a pair of three-point field goals to rally back into the contest, with the first coming from senior Ainsley Tolson. Tom Johnson had the play-by-play call:
Moments later, Trenton senior Salem Croy took a charge against All-State forward Hayley Frank of Strafford, giving the Lady Bulldogs a chance to cut further into the lead:
While at down 10-6, with momentum to Trenton, the game looked like it was set-up to be a classic, it instead gave the Lady Bulldogs a first-hand look at the aspects of Strafford’s game that makes the Lady Indians program dynastic. Strafford’s defense bottled up the driving and shooting game that Trenton’s offense relies on, while the inside play of Hayley Frank, combined with the outside shooting prowess of Madison Chittenden, proved to tough for Trenton, as Strafford earned victory 114 in a row, 63-33. The lead by the half was 37-16 in favor of the Lady Indians, as Strafford advances to play Lutheran North in the Class 3 championship game on Friday afternoon, dropping Trenton into a third place encounter with Licking on Friday at 12:45 PM from the Hammons Student Center in Springfield. Hayley Frank, the University of Missouri commit, ranked #28 in the country by Rivals.com, had 25 points and 18 rebounds to lead Strafford, with her twin sister Kayley scoring 14 points. Chittenden had 15 for SHS.
Trenton had a game-high 11 points from both Ainsley Tolson and Maci Moore, falling to 26-1 on the season, with Strafford improving to 32-0.
Head Coach Brian Upton, while admitting the Lady Bulldogs didn’t play to their best, praised Strafford for having a lot to do with that fact:
Trenton’s final game of the season, and in the career of seniors Ainsley Tolson, Salem Croy, Mykah Hurley, Sidney Lynch, and Taylor Richman, can be heard on Friday afternoon on Hot Country Z 101.7, with pregame at 12:25.