BOURBON – The final week of the regular season has extra meaning for the Triton boys basketball team. A redemption game and a conference championship highlight the final week of the Trojan schedule, and Tuesday was the redemption the Trojans got in a 50-41 win over Bremen on senior night in the Trojan Trench.
Triton has just one loss since the turn of the calendar to 2017, and that came against Bremen in the Bi-County Tournament. Bremen looked like it was about to turn the double on the Trojans, taking a 16-7 lead after the first quarter aided by a pair of bombs from Ryan Caldwell. Triton was able to patch together a 10-2 run out of the gate in the second, but trailed by three at the half.
Grant Johnson then became a man among boys in the third, scoring 12 of his game-high 22 points to boost Triton to a 36-28 lead with eight minutes to go. As Johnson scored at will, Bremen’s patience wore out, which is exactly what Triton needed.
“I think he had something to prove tonight,” stated Triton head coach Jason Groves of Johnson, who didn’t play well in the loss to Bremen in January. “I kind of got on him after that game and I think he remembered that. He took that to heart. And that shows the quality of our kids. I can get on a kid like that and he can take it, and he knows next time in the back of his mind he is going to come back and prove something. And he really did tonight and had a great senior night.”
Johnson added 14 boards and a block in his final regular season game at the Trench.
The Lions weren’t able to get within two possessions after Johnson went off, which also saw Matt Box get a technical foul in the fourth for unsporting behavior towards Zac Pitney after the two had been jawing all night.
Groves noted the rivalry atmosphere between the two former Northern State Conference members, but also backyard rivals sitting only 15 miles apart with a generation of history. Groves himself was assessed a technical shortly after Box’s when he caught a ball that Bremen was attempting to save from going out of bounds, but was being saved in the path of Groves as he stood in front of the Triton bench. As the officials tried to sort out the technicality of the rule when a coach catches a ball and the consequence of it, eventually Groves (the Triton bench) was assessed the tech as even the officials conceded to the vagueness of the situation.
What’s some more excitement in an intense game?
“I thought they teed up (Triton assistant coach Steve) Duff,” laughed Groves. “I think they got tired of arguing and just said we’re going to tee you up and give it to Bremen. I’m not sure anybody knew the rule. We both agreed, we said yeah, I touched the ball. I was out of bounds. But what happens? I just reacted. The ball was in front of my face and I grabbed it. I wasn’t doing it to be sneaky or anything. I was just reacting.”
Pitney finished with 13 points and six boards and Nate Flenar had seven points and four offensive rebounds, five boards overall, in an effort that saw Triton outrebound Bremen 40-19, 13 of those coming on the offensive glass. Triton would outdo Bremen 15-6 in second chance points. Triton did commit 19 turnovers to Bremen’s 11, which Groves was also quick to point out.
Caldwell led Bremen (7-15) with 11 points. The Lions will host Culver Friday in its regular season finale.
Triton (16-5) has won eight in a row and 12 of its last 13 games and will take aim at Knox Friday night to win the Hoosier North Athletic Conference championship outright. Triton is 7-0 and hasn’t won a conference title outright since 2011 when it took the NSC title. Winamac is 7-1 and done with its conference games, its only loss to Triton back on Dec. 16. Winamac and Pioneer split the conference crown last season.
Triton saw its late-game lead shrink to five, but get no smaller in an eventual 55-43 JV win against Bremen. Tye Orsund led the Trojans with 13 points while Delano Shumpert had 12 points and Kaden Atkins had 10 points. Reece Willis led Bremen with 14 points.