BOURBON — At times, Tuesday’s game at the Trojan Trench looked like Jake Reichard singlehandedly taking on Triton.
Plymouth struggled to find meaningful offensive contributions beyond the junior guard, but, unfortunately for the Trojans, Reichard’s production was enough as he poured in 31 points to power the Pilgrims past Triton, 41-38.
Triton never gave him much room to work — Jared Bules put in a particularly gutsy performance drawing the tough defensive assignment — but Reichard still found ways to score, knocking down 9-of-19 shots from the floor, including 3-of-6 3-pointers, and 10-of-14 free throws on the way to his game-high 31. It was Reichard’s 3-of-4 charity tosses down the stretch that sealed the win with the two teams knotted at 38-all with just 13 seconds left to play.
“I thought the kids battled and fought. The whole team was aware when he got the ball,” said Triton coach Jason Groves. “Some of those shots, there’s nothing you can do about them — step-back 3s and pull-up jumpers. That’s what we wanted him shooting — 17- to 18-foot pull-up jumpers. Give the kid credit he was able to hit those. We tried different things, we tried a box and one, but that didn’t work too well.”
Triton still had one more opportunity with 9.3 seconds remaining, but the Trojans threw the ball away inbounding against Plymouth’s full court press on their last possession. The home team finished with a respectable 14 turnovers against the Pilgrims — respectable given the fact that Plymouth pressed for most of the night in Bourbon. Plymouth turned over just nine times in one of the few statistical categories the visitors beat Triton in Tuesday.
“We gave up big rebounds when we needed to rebound the ball. Or take care of the ball on offense; we just didn’t do those two things,” said Groves.
Ashton Oviedo led Triton offensively with 16 points, mostly earned on the strength of 4-of-9 3-point shooting. It was back-to-back, NBA range triples by Oviedo late in the fourth that knotted the game up one final time at 38-38.
“He’s our go-to guy. He’s got to be more consistent. I thought the first half he was a little passive, a little hesitant,” said Groves of the sophomore guard. “He’s been fairly consistent, and I thought tonight he battled on the defensive end. I talked to him about making an impact on defense. I thought for the most part he did that, too.”
Another sophomore guard, Tyson Yates, gave Triton a boost off the bench with 11 points and two assists.
“I thought he played well tonight. It was nice to see him respond in a positive way. After last game, we started John (Gardner) this game, and we talked about our guys just being fundamental with the ball. He was having some footwork issues, and to his credit he worked on it this week and took care of it tonight. He did a nice job penetrating to the basket,” Groves said. “I was happy that he was able to have a good night.”
Plymouth moved to 1-2 with its first win of the season and will host South Bend Adams Friday night. Triton slides to an even 1-1 and will host another Northern Lakes Conference school when NorthWood comes to the Trojan Trench Friday.
“They’re going to be just like they always are. They’re going to be well-coached. They’re going to be talented. Good offense, really good defense, very balanced. So it doesn’t get any easier the rest of the way out,” said Groves.
“We’re going to have our hands full, but these teams early in the year kind of show us what we need to expose our weaknesses. They show us what we need to get ready for for the conference schedule and the meat of our schedule.”
Triton won Tuesday’s JV game, 41-21. Lucas Cabrera and Cameron Shively scored 12 points apiece to lead the JV Trojans. Easton Strain scored six points to lead Plymouth in the opener.