All About Winning For Star Yeo

Triton's Clay Yeo has been head and shoulders above the competition this postseason. (Photo by Mike Deak)

Triton’s Clay Yeo has been head and shoulders above the competition this postseason. (Photo by Mike Deak)

BOURBON – There’s not much missing from Clay Yeo’s incredible high school basketball résumé.

The Triton senior superstar still does have a couple of items at the top of his hardwood wish list though that he wants to add to his amazing lengthy list of accomplishments in his prolific prep career.

Well, namely one big item that the outstanding 6-6 guard still wants in a very bad way.

“I want to win a state championship,” said Yeo emphatically Wednesday about his top goals right now.

Yeo, who earned a state runner-up ring in 2011 as a sophomore, knows there is business first to take care of this Saturday.

The No. 10 Trojans (19-5) face a very strong Lafayette Central Catholic (18-8) team in the Class 1-A North Semistate game at Lafayette Jefferson High School at 4 p.m. A win there sends the Trojans into the state title tilt on March 23 in Indianapolis.

“The No. 1 thing right now is to win the semi state,” Yeo said prior to then adding winning a state title as No. 2 and No. 3 on his to-do list. “It’s going to take a strong team effort for us to do that. LCC is a very good club. They are scrappy and have multiple players who can score.”

Yeo will have a lot to say on Saturday whether or not the tradition-rich Triton program wins its fourth semi state title or not.  The versatile guard leads the Trojans in every statistical category, including scoring (26.7), rebounding (7.9), assists (68), steals (43), blocked shots (43),  3-pointers (30) and minutes played (660).  He is shooting 56.7 percent from the field and 73.7 percent from the free throw line.

To prove he is human, Yeo also paces his squad in turnovers (78).

For now, Yeo is trying to savor his last few moments with his teammates.

“I’m just trying to enjoy it,” said Yeo of the impending end of his career donning a Triton No. 5 jersey. “I’m trying to enjoy practices and being around my teammates. They are not only my teammates, but my friends.

“I just want to play with a sense of urgency. This is extremely gratifying and a blessing to get to this point. It hit me Tuesday when we walked into Lafayette Jeff to practice.”

Yeo has helped the Trojans recover after some struggles early. Triton started just 8-5 against a very tough schedule, including losses at Plymouth (63-43), at NorthWood (66-62) and at Mishawaka Marian (63-50) in a 2-3 start to the season, but has won 11 in a row since a 50-48 loss at LaVille Jan. 18 in a semifinal game of the Bi-County Tournament at LaVille.

“We’ve just went so hard in practice since that loss to LaVille,” said Yeo of the wakeup call. “Coach said it was about practicing hard all the time. He left it up to us as far as which way our season was going to go. As seniors, we said we’ve got to get going and I’ve just tried to set the tone at practices and go hard everyday.”

“After that loss in the Bi-County tourney, it’s just come together and we’ve been rolling ever since. I’m just trying to enjoy every day of it that is left.”

Yeo, who is bound to play at Valparaiso University next season, has definitely left an impression on his coach.

“The thing is that Clay really gets it,” said eighth-year Triton coach Jason Groves, who has guided the Trojans to three state championship game appearances including a title in 2008. “All of our seniors get it. They, as well as all of our players, have been busting their tails the second half of the season to accomplish their goals.

“The great thing is that Clay’s determination and drive rubs off on our younger guys. It’s a carry over affect. It’s nice that these guys, all of them, are laying or should I say relaying the bricks and the foundation for the future of our program.”

Yeo had a monster game in his final contest on the home hardwood this past Saturday night. He poured in 35 points as the Trojans won their own regional with a 53-41 win over No. 4 Pioneer in the title game. Yeo, who shot 13-of-17 from the field, scored 22 straight points for his team in a span from the second to the fourth quarter.

At one point during the dominating display by the ultra-efficient Yeo in the third quarter (in which he scored all 12 of his team’s points), his classmates in the Triton student section were chanting “You can’t stop him.”

“I heard it, but I was just trying to take one possession at a time,” said Yeo of his incredibly productive stretch at the offensive end. “I was just in a groove in the flow of our offense and I took advantage of what the defense gave me.

“Winning is what it’s all about, not scoring 35 points or whatever. I just want to be versatile and do whatever for our team to win. I trust all my teammates and my coach. The reason we are so dangerous as a team is because of coach Groves and because we have other players who can step up.”

Groves offers a relatively simple explanation for what makes Yeo a truly special high school player.

“There’s nothing he can’t do,” Groves remarked. “That’s what makes him special. He can shoot, he can dribble, he can post up and he’s coming into his own defensively.

“The thing too is that Clay has the physical tools, as far as his size, length and athleticism, that you have to have to be a great high school player.  Clay never forces things and he epitomizes being efficient. He understands that he has to do his scoring within the framework of our system and that’s what makes it even more impressive.

“I didn’t think he was close to 35 points Saturday night. That’s what amazes me about him. It was just a normal game where he was not trying to do too much.  It was a quiet 35 if you can say that about scoring 35 points in a regional championship game. He’s just very coachable and just wants to win.”

“Clay’s not about personal glory, but it will be shame if he’s not an Indiana All-Star. He’s proven with his body of work he deserves it. I’m not sure what else he can do. I know it would mean a lot to this team, our program and the community for him to be Triton’s first boys All-Star and I know Clay wants it.”

Triton has had just one Indiana All-Star in school history. Former Trojan star Lorea Feldman earned the prestigious honor in 1984, prior to becoming a two-time team MVP at Michigan.

Yeo is also closing in on quite a career milestone that would place him on a very exclusive list in Hoosier hoops history. He currently has 1,950 points and just 41 boys players in state history have scored 2,000.  That accomplishment is far from his mind, although another one does cross his mind.

“If I just continue to play the way I’m playing things will come,” said Yeo. “Really, the 2,000 points is low on my list. I do think about making the All-Star team. That would be big and get us at Triton on the map.

“I texted Demetrius (Mishawaka Marian star senior and Notre Dame recruit Demetrius Jackson) last night about it. He would get my vote for Mr. Basketball this year and it would be fun to play with him one more time on the All-Star team. Him and I were roommates when we played on the same AAU team and we’re friends.

“I want to win a state championship. That’s way more important to me than anything else at this point.”

Don’t bet against him adding that to his résumé.

 

 

 

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