BOURBON — Triton’s basketball teams swept visiting Hoosier North Athletic Conference opponent Culver Community at the Trojan Trench in a boys-girls doubleheader Friday night.
Defense was the name of the game for both Triton squads, although the Trojan boys shot the ball pretty well, too.
TRITON BOYS 56, CULVER 39
The Trojans grabbed control early and snapped a three-game losing streak with some very pesky defense in Friday’s nightcap.
Triton players pressured Culver guards relentlessly in the backcourt and hawked the ball in the passing lanes, turning their guests over a total of 21 times and capitalizing with 18 points off those miscues. The Trojans turned the Cavs over 13 times in the first half alone and scored 12 points off turnovers before the intermission to grab a 28-19 cushion at halftime, then pretty much cruised to their second HNAC win.
“We have some quickness. We want to get good ball pressure and also be smart, though,” explained Triton boys coach Jason Groves. “We have an opportunity to get in a passing lane, do it. But the second half we gave up way too many open looks. We weren’t matching up very well in transition. I thought we were pesky in the half court, but in transition we weren’t matching up very well. I’m proud of their effort. A nice win for us, but we’ve still got a long ways to go.”
Junior guard Quentin Amsden grabbed a game-high six steals for numerous fast break opportunities. He tallied five of those steals and scored on a trio of breakaways in the first half alone on his way to a game co-high 14 points for the Trojans.
“That’s Quentin’s game. Quentin can be a little pesky defender. It was nice to see him go so hard he said ‘Coach, I need a break,’” recalled Groves. “He pulled himself out. That’s when you know that kids are working hard. Quentin has always been a hard-worker, and it’s nice to see that paying off getting some steals tonight.”
Beau Hepler matched Amsden’s production, but he did it with a different approach, knocking down his first three 3-point attempts on his way to 50 percent shooting from beyond the arc. It was a heartening sign from the senior guard, who has struggled to find his shot since sustaining a shoulder injury in the Trojans’ second game of the season at Plymouth back in November.
“He needed that. Since his shoulder injury at Plymouth, he hasn’t been finding his rhythm, and it was nice to see him find that tonight, shooting with confidence. He sparked us a little, got us going early,” said Groves.
Leading by 10 after a Lucas Richman free throw early in the third period, the Trojans held Culver to just 2-of-10 shooting during a decisive, 13-4 frame, pushing their lead out to as many as 18 points before Culver made a run in the fourth. The Cavs used some transition offense to whittle their deficit back down to 11 with Owen Clingler’s second 3-pointer of the final stanza but never got the game back within single digits.
“That’s been our strength this year defensively — we’re pretty decent in the half court,” Groves said. “But the game got up and down there a little bit, just being a little silly with the ball not taking care of it, maybe taking some quick, bad shots. When we’re in that situation we’ve just got to be smarter and execute a little better. But I thought our defense was a little pesky. We talked about digging on their bigs and making them not feel comfortable inside and being able to contest their guards.
“Overall I’m pleased.”
Culver was paced by Hunter Manns’ 13 points in the loss, which dropped the Cavs to 1-10 overall with an 0-5 HNAC mark.
Triton moved to an even 5-5 on the season and 2-1 in the conference. The Trojans, who are down two key players in Ashton Oviedo and Tyler Heckman, both of whom have sprained ankles, will get a rematch with John Glenn on the road in Walkerton in the two teams’ Bi-County opener in Walkerton next Tuesday.
“I think this team has a lot of upside to it, so I’m excited about our future. Hopefully they just keep getting better and hopefully play a game where everybody is 100 percent,” said Groves.
TRITON GIRLS 26, CULVER 20
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Lady Trojans overcame a rough shooting night with a solid defensive effort to snap a four-game losing streak in Friday’s opener at the Trojan Trench.
“A win is a win. We got a conference win tonight,” said head coach Adam Heckaman. “I thought we played pretty good defense. We’re still trying to learn to make some better decisions on the offensive end. If we can get that part down, then I think we’ll give ourselves more chances to win down the stretch.”
The Lady Trojans turned their guests over 21 times while only allowing 26 shots by the Cavs. All told, Culver only made 3-of-26 (11.5 percent) of their shots from the floor, including just 1-of-17 as Triton held them off in the second half. The home team wasn’t exactly lights out on the offensive end themselves, scoring at a 9-of-40 (22.5 percent) clip and turning the ball over 14 times, but it was plenty good enough to get the job done.
“As I said, defensively we did what we wanted to do. It’s just, in a game like that if we can make a few better decisions offensively,” Heckaman said. “I think we can get a little bit more of a lead and play a little bit more comfortable. But we haven’t got that confidence yet. We’re still working on it, and that’s something we’ll work on going into Bi-County next week.”
Delanie Groves led her team with 11 points as the only player in double figures in the low-scoring contest. She knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the first period for all of Triton’s points in the quarter, her second triple on an inside-out helper from Taren Yates at the 3:01 stop of the clock, which pushed her team out to a 6-4 advantage. After an ill-advised 3-point attempt early in the fourth, Groves grabbed a quick steal for a transition bucket to give her team its largest lead of the night at 20-12 with 7:10 left to play.
“I keep telling them is that early on those are good shots,” said Heckaman of Groves’ first-quarter 3-point attempts. “Then I think we got up 20-12, and I think we shot one about three feet behind the line and we had another kid shoot one at the top of the key. Those are the shots that we’re trying to learn when it’s good, when it’s not. Delanie stepped up and hit them when it counted early on to give us that lead.
“She had a good night tonight, and like I said, we’ll take the win, and we’ll learn from it.”
Holding onto slim leads in the second half, the Lady Trojans took just three attempts from deep after the intermission. Instead, they worked the ball into the paint. Chelsea Johnson posted up hard and got a number of good looks on the interior but struggled to find the finishing touch while sustaining contact from Culver defenders, missing all eight of her attempts from the floor. Still, she was in position, and Jaela Faulkner scored six points attacking off the dribble at key moments, her driving lay-in at the 2:48 mark of the second quarter giving her team the lead for good.
“I told them at one point ‘You’re not allowed to shoot a 3 unless somebody is on the other side of the floor and we have that much time.’ We were trying to get it in there, we were trying to get more aggressive going to the basket, but now the next step is trying to help our post players understand what’s a good shot down there and when should we kick it out,” Heckaman said. “We’ll get there. I know I say we’ll get there and there’s only like three weeks left in the season, but we’re taking steps in the right direction each week and we’re trying to take a a couple more steps before Tuesday’s game with John Glenn.”
Culver (6-11, 1-5 HNAC) got five points from Alex Temme and four apiece from Sarah Walters, Madison Shedrow and Lilly Hayes.
Triton (5-14, 4-2 HNAC) will open another boys/ girls doubleheader at John Glenn next Tuesday in the first round of the Bi-County Tournament.