By James Costello
The Pilot News
BOURBON — Masen Yeo’s senior season got off to a bit of a shaky start. He and the Trojans are hoping he put all that behind him Friday.
Yeo poured in a game-high 29 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the floor and added a team-best four steals on the defensive end to help power the Trojans to a 62-50 victory over visiting Washington Township at the Trojan Trench.
“He struggled in the scrimmage a little bit, he struggled in our first game. He just was playing hesitantly,” explained Groves. “I basically told him just ‘Masen, go out there and play.’ He had a great summer, and he was playing that way this summer — just free and natural — and that’s what he did tonight. He just came out and played like he’s capable of playing. That was really nice to see. He’s capable of playing that way night in and night out if he has the confidence to do so.”
Listed at forward on the Trojans’ roster, Yeo showcased some pretty impressive guard play Friday night, beating defenders off the dribble and even bringing the ball up the floor against Washington Township’s fullcourt press on a few occasions. But it was his perimeter shooting that really stood out as he knocked down a perfect 6-of-6 shots from beyond the arc.
With Triton trailing early, Yeo gave his team a spark with all 14 of the Trojans’ points during a 14-1 run that spanned the final 4:18 of the first quarter, and they never trailed again. He put up 22 of his game-high tally in the first half to push the home team out to a comfortable 35-19 cushion at the intermission. His final triple of the night — from the wing on an inside-outside pass from junior center Grant Johnson at the 5:39 stop of the third — gave Triton its biggest lead of the night at 43-19.
“I just wanted to help the team, honestly,” said Yeo. “Last game was rough for me. Six points, doesn’t matter, I just wanted to contribute to the team. I was hot; they kept feeding me. That’s what it was.”
While Yeo got hot Friday, fellow senior Jordan Anderson and junior Johnson continued their steady production after both finished in double figures in Triton’s opener opposite OD. Anderson notched 14, and Johnson finished with 12 as the trio accounted for the lion’s share of the Trojans’ points.
Triton pretty much took the suspense out of Friday’s contest early, but Washington Township tried to make a game of it late. The Senators used swarming fullcourt pressure to fluster the Trojans into nine of their 19 turnovers in the fourth quarter, which the visitors opened with a 9-1 spurt. Brock Pappas’ driving lay-up with 32 seconds remaining cut the Trojans’ lead back down to single digits at 59-50, but Anderson closed it out with 3-of-4 free throws to bring the game to its final margin.
Groves attributed his team’s late turnover woes to a little bit of Washington Township, a little bit of the Trojans.
“It’s a tough situation when you’re up like that when a team is pressuring you,” he said. “I told them ‘We’ve still got to attack, guys, but we’ve got to make smart decisions.’ At times I just didn’t think we made smart decisions. Now, you’ve got to give them credit. Those guards are really good guards. The (Alex) Perez kid, I told Jarrett Kreft, ‘That’s one of the better guards you’re going to go against all year long.’ He’s really, really good. So you’ve got to give them credit as well.”
Perez paced his team with 18 points, while fellow senior guard Dustin Payne notched 15, and junior forward Nolan Johnson finished with 10 for the Senators. The Trojans moved to 9-2 in the series with Washington Township in the two teams’ first game since 2008.
While Washington Township slips to 1-1, the Trojans move to a 2-0 start. It’s a solid first step for a Triton program that lost some key pieces to graduation last season. They’ll play at home once more against Plymouth Tuesday before finishing off the homestand opposite NorthWood next Friday.
In the JV contest, Washington used 11 points from Colin Barton and 10 from Hunter Hachey to beat Triton 45-42. Dylan Hensley had 11 points and Drew Stichter added 10 points for the Trojans.