PLYMOUTH – The Triton boys basketball team shook off an incredibly slow start to almost provide an incredible finish Tuesday night.
Host Plymouth hit key free throws down the stretch to edge the Trojans 51-45 in a non-conference clash.
Senior Reis Yoder of the Pilgrims hit 3-4 free throws in the final 4.6 seconds to seal the win for the Pilgrims.
Josh Anders, a 6-4 junior, canned 16 points as Plymouth improved to 2-0. Junior Cam Eveland and sophomore Nick Felke each finished with 10 points for Plymouth.
Senior guard Austin Sellers turned in a strong performance to lead the Trojans with 16 points.
Triton, which trailed 13-0 to open the contest, rallied to take its first lead of the game at 43-42 on a layup by Sellers with 4:21 to play.
The teams then traded buckets before Tyler England scored inside to put Plymouth up for good at 46-45. The Pilgrims shaved more than a minute off the clock after a Triton miss and two free throws by Felke with 1:11 left made it 48-45.
Then things got interesting.
The Trojans called a pair of timeouts to set up a play. Triton turned the ball over with 27.7 second left before Eveland missed a free throw for Plymouth with 24.9 on the clock. The Trojans regained possession after Skyler Reichert scooped up a loose ball following a steal by Eveland. Reichert attempted a heavily defended 3-pointer, which was well off the mark with 4.6 seconds to play.
The Triton bench was then hit with a technical foul, whistled on an assistant coach, and Yoder hit his free throws for the final tally.
“It’s unfortunate to end the game that way with a technical, but it did not affect the outcome,” said Triton coach Jason Groves. “Give Plymouth credit. They battled back after we got the lead late and they hit their free throws.
“I was proud of our guys for the way they fought back after the start we had. It says a lot about them. I would have been a lot more disappointed if they had not done that. They just started doing the things we talked about, which was playing defense and taking care of the ball.”
Plymouth smothered the Trojans early with plenty of outstanding man-to-man ball pressure. The hosts led 13-0 before Grant Johnson made a layup with 2:56 to play in the first quarter to break the scoring drought for Triton. The Pilgrims led 19-6 after the opening period.
“Plymouth does a nice job taking away a lot of what we wanted to do, but we knew the pressure and denying the ball was coming,” Groves remarked. “And we still made bad passes. To start that way was disappointing because we worked on that this weekend.
“Give Plymouth credit though for hitting shots early and getting going.”
Triton answered with a 10-2 run to open the second quarter to cut the deficit to 21-16. The Pilgrims led 28-25 at halftime as Anders netted 12.
The third and fourth quarter turned into a nip-and-tuck affair. Plymouth outscored the Trojans 13-10 in the third frame to lead 38-32 before Sellers led a charge in the final period with six straight points to rally the Trojans into their short-lived lead.
“Our guys hung with it, stayed patient and hit free throws,” said Plymouth coach Ryan Bales. “Give Triton a lot of credit. They made a great comeback, which did not surprise us.”
Triton, which beat Plymouth 59-44 last season, drops to 1-1. The Trojans shot just 4-15 from 3-point range after hitting 8-20 from deep in a 63-46 opening win at Oregon-Davis.
“We’re a better shooting team than that, but you will have those nights,” said Groves. “I thought Austin did a real nice job for us. What concerns me more is that we have to get some inside scoring consistently and get better defensively too.”
Reichert and Joey Corder each had nine points for Triton. Masen Yeo had four, Nathan Flenar three and Jordan Anderson and Grant Johnson two each. Reichert led his team with seven rebounds.
Triton won the junior varsity contest by a 46-42 final. Zac Pitney scored 21 points, including his team’s final nine of the game, to lead Triton. Kadin McCrammer led Plymouth with 13 points.
Triton (1-1) plays at NorthWood and Plymouth (2-0) travels to Rochester Friday night.