BOURBON — If the Friday night game Triton’s boys basketball team played against Culver at the sectional is any indication, the Trojans could go a long, long way.
Wanting badly to enact retribution after a loss to Culver during the Northern State Conference season on its home floor, Triton did just that with a 44-32 win over the Cavs on its home floor in the Culver Sectional. Faced the opportunity to now take on a Fort Wayne Canterbury team that erased Triton from the state tournament last March on the Bourbon basketball floor, the Trojans couldn’t be more excited.
“This is the team that ended our season last year in the regional championship, so that will definitely be on our minds,” said Triton head coach Jason Groves. “However, this is a new season and new teams so we need to focus on what we need to do to beat them this Saturday. Not worry too much about last year.”
The Triton program, which beat Michigan City Marquette, 47-46, in the Culver Sectional championship, have won a sectional title in each of the last six seasons and have hosted the regional in each of those occasions. The program have been to the state finals three times during the current stretch, winning the whole 1-A dance in 2008. The double overtime win by Canterbury, 64-60, over Triton last year was the final win for the Cavaliers before bowing out to Rockville in the semi-state. Canterbury reached this year’s regional by beating Fort Wayne Blackhawk, Bethany Christian and Lakewood Park at the Hamilton Sectional.
Triton (17-5) will again lean on the broad shoulders of All-American candidate Clay Yeo. Averaging 27 points, eight rebounds and three assists per game, Yeo is the do-it-all for the Trojans that neither Culver nor Marquette could slow down. Yeo scored 48 points in the sectional, including a masterful 32 points in the title game. But, without the contributions from players like Tanner Shepherd in the Marquette game and Skyler Reichert in the Culver game, Triton are in the bleachers watching someone else play on its floor.
“I thought in the Culver game our younger guys really stepped up big time,” Groves said, noting the foul trouble Yeo and Seth Glingle were in during the second half. “In the championship game, I just felt our kids really showed their fight and determination.
“That is the fight that I have been seeing out of this team in practice, though, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise.”
Shepherd has averaged 12 points and four rebounds while Reichert has hit 19 threes off the bench thus far.
The defense for the Trojans have been the staples holding the outfit together. Forcing Culver and Marquette into 26 combined turnovers, including a theft by Yeo to seal the one-point win over Marquette, keeping a very balanced Canterbury team at bay will make or break the matchup.
The Cavaliers (15-8) are led by Trent VanHorn, a multi-talented 6’5″ guard. VanHorn scored 22 points Monday night in Canterbury’s win over Lakewood Park, and has been to the Cavaliers what Yeo has been for Triton. But Groves is more worried about the total size and speed of the Canterbury roster. Nine of the 12 active Cavaliers are listed at least 6’0″ on the roster and the length of VanHorn as well as 6’4″ Joey Pedro could present real problems for Triton.
The overall athleticism of 6’2″ guards Tommy McNabb and Chase Moyle could be real headaches for the Trojans.
“We don’t need just one or two guys step up a ton for Clay, we need everyone to step up their game just a little,” Groves said. “If we get good, solid production out of all of our players like we did against Culver in the sectional, we are a very good team.”
The Triton-Canterbury game will follow the first game of the day, which pits Pioneer (20-3) against Gary 21st Century (15-7), a 10:30 a.m. start.