BOURBON – Life hasn’t always been easy in the Trojan Trench. A dose of the bitter pill was given to the Triton Trojans before its boys basketball season even started.
Not only are two of Triton’s top players gone to graduation, but one of its hopeful point guards is gone, as well.
Jarrett Martin, who was slated to fill in as the point guard for the Trojans this winter, blew out his knee during a preseason open gym and will miss his senior season. Martin was to fill the huge shoes of Jordan Anderson, who led Triton at the point for four years and signed on to play collegiately at Franklin College.
The tough blow for the Trojans sends head coach Jason Groves into somewhat of a scramble mode. Needing to also fill the ultra-versatile void left by graduate Masen Yeo, plus roles of graduated Jarrett Kreft and Dalton Bailey, Groves has his hands full in trying to recover.
“First of all, I feel terrible for Jarrett Martin,” Groves said. “He is a great kid and has really worked his way up the depth chart for his first three years, and now, when he is going to be a starter and major contributor, something like this happens. I don’t understand why things like this happen and feel horrible for him.
“However, we all know that we have to move on and establish our identity as a team, which is going to start by finding a consistent point guard, or point guards. We will now ask more from some senior players like Nate Flenar, Adam Stevens, and Zac Pitney.
Pitney and Flenar both have the experience in varsity competition, having played in all 26 of Triton’s game from a year ago. Pitney had six starts and showed rapid improvement as a combo guard, scoring 5.2 points per game, but brings a ton of athleticism to the floor. Flenar had one start and was used mostly as a role player, but managed 14 assists and 11 steals in limited time. Stevens played just 18 varsity minutes a season ago for the Trojan team that won 18 games and its first sectional title since the 2013 team that went to state.
Triton’s top scoring option likely will be senior Grant Johnson, who at 6-6, is an imposing target for a 1-A school. Johnson averaged 10.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game and had 36 blocks, 26 steals and 22 assists. Johnson should see those numbers rise with Anderson and Yeo’s combined 27 points per night gone, with it taking out over 530 shot attempts. Oddly enough last season, as Johnson went, so did the Trojans.
“Since his seventh grade year, Grant has probably improved from one season to the next more than any other player I’ve ever coached,” Groves said. “That is a credit to his work ethic and love for basketball. He will be the leader and centerpiece of this team. His length presents problems defensively, and his inside-outside abilities present problems offensively. One of our main areas of focus this season has always been getting Grant more touches.”
Groves, who enters his 12th season on the Triton bench, also points to senior Caden Marr and juniors Dylan Hensley and Drew Stichter and Max Slusser to contribute right away.
Triton continues its non-conference blitz to open the season, opening Nov. 23 at Oregon-Davis and then visiting Plymouth and NorthWood. Warsaw will visit the Trench Dec. 21.
“It is never easy when you lose players like Jordan Anderson and Masen Yeo, but the good thing is that the players below them were practicing against and learning from those players as well,” Groves said. “It is always hard to replace those points. However, hard work, discipline, toughness and defense don’t require a basketball to go through the hoop. This is the least experienced team that we’ve had in a long time, but I really like this senior class and some of their abilities.”