CULVER – There was absolutely no stopping Trent Elliott on his home court Friday night.
The Culver senior made no bones he would be the difference maker, scoring a whopping 40 points as he and his Cavalier teammates knocked out Triton, 61-51, at the Class 1-A Culver Boys Basketball Sectional semi-finals.
In an eerie remake of the 2013 sectional semi-finals where Triton’s Clay Yeo was the focus and still managed to get his points to will his team past Culver, Elliott was the 2014 version of determination personified.
Elliott started slow, but got hot in a hurry. Scoring just 11 points at the half, the forward took the rock and began to get to the basket with ease in the third quarter. Part of a 17-1 Cavalier run to span the third quarter, Elliott was getting everything to fall, making nine of 12 shots in the second half. After flipping in a shot while drawing a foul, Culver had spread out a 12-point lead leaving even Elliott shaking his head.
“Honestly, in the first quarter I was nervous and I missed a couple shots I normally bury or at least come close to hitting,” Elliott said. “Halfway through the second quarter, it started clicking. We were down by three at the half, and during the season we were up three on them and they came back and won, so why can’t we? When we went on that 17-1 run out of the half, that’s when it really started clicking for me.”
Elliott finished 13-22 from the floor and 12-15 from the line to notch his 40 points to go along with nine rebounds. While the focus was on Elliott, Culver quietly did the little things on the offensive glass. The Cavaliers pulled down 13 offensive rebounds in the game, leading to eight straight points to open the second half all off the offensive glass. Culver outrebounded Triton 34-22 for the game, which worked directly against the successful defensive philosophy Trojan head coach Jason Groves has instituted against opponents for each of the past six sectional championships Triton won.
“This is disappointing, it really is, and that was probably the worst half of basketball we have played all year long,” Groves said of the second half of the game. “Give Culver credit, they did some nice things. Elliott goes off for 40, you can’t stop it. There is not much you can do about that. Obviously the kids are disappointed. We spent a lot of time and effort. We haven’t been in this position in a while, it’s a new feeling. It’s not a good one.”
Triton (12-8) looked to have developed the game it had made famous in building four state trips in the past six seasons. Taking a 25-22 lead into the half, Triton controlled a good portion of the momentum and let its role players do their thing while Elliott struggled to find rhythm. Guard Jordan Anderson emerged, scoring 10 of his team-high 16 points in the first half, including a three right before the halftime buzzer.
Skyler Reichert scored 11 points to take a little more heat off Tanner Shepherd in what would be the final game of his illustrious career.
Shepherd struggled mightily from the floor, making just four of 17 attempts, and finished with 15 points. Triton’s frustration as the game’s outcome became inevitable was written all over its floor leader’s face, scowling after every foul call and spending his final moments draped under a towel as Elliott and his teammates moved onto the championship game Saturday night.
Click here to see a video of Shepherd’s final two points as a Trojan.
Culver (15-7) will face Argos (13-7) in the final after the Dragons downed South Central (Union Mills) by a count of 75-51 in the second semi-final. Culver has won 13 sectional titles in its history, the last coming in 2008 as a member of Class 2-A. Argos has six sectional titles in its history, the last trophy hoisted in 2005.
Culver head coach Kyle Elliott is just happy to be coaching another day.
“We’ve got a great group of kids who are really starting to pull together here,” stated coach Elliott. “(Trent) knows this is his senior year and knows what it takes to keep playing. He doesn’t want to lose, and neither does anyone else on this team. We work as one. That’s what it takes to try to advance in the tournament.”