BOURBON — Coming off a challenging week opposite outsized Northern Lakes Conference squads Plymouth and NorthWood, the Trojans were ready to take a bit of a step back against visiting Lakeland Christian Academy Tuesday.
When the Cougars lost star guard Seth Martin early in the night, things really got out of control for LCA, and Triton rolled to a 63-17 victory in the two teams’ first-ever meeting at the Trojan Trench.
“Games like this, that’s what some of our kids needed is a game to build their confidence and be able to execute some things and get us rolling in the right direction. I think tonight was a big step for us. I thought we came out with a lot of energy, a lot of emotion,” said Triton coach Jason Groves.
Martin was sidelined with an ankle injury just a little over three minutes into the contest. With LCA’s freshman star out for the night, Triton’s defensive pressure yielded 33 turnovers for 39 points. In fact, the Cougars finished with more turnovers than shots, scuffling to a 4-of-21 clip from the floor.
“Triton is a very good program. They extend pressure well, and we knew that was going to be a challenge regardless,” began Cougars coach Chris Hohm. “But Seth does a very good job of just wanting the ball in his hands, kind of giving a little bit of calmness — when the ball is in his hands, everyone can take a deep breath. As a team, we’ve just got to get more used to having pressure. He couldn’t take that off of our shoulders tonight.”
“Unfortunately they lost their kid averaging 24. When you lose a kid that you build your whole team around, it’s hard to recover from that,” said Groves. “But I give our kids credit. We fought and pressured a little bit more tonight. Obviously when the Martin kid was out we got out and denied a little bit more.”
The Trojans led 33-9 at the half, and Groves was able to substitute liberally throughout the game. Tyler Heckaman scored at a 6-of-10 clip from the floor on his way to a game-high 14 points with six rebounds for the Trojans. Ashton Oviedo gave his team11 points, and Quentin Amsden put up 12 points with four steals and four assists in his return to the lineup.
“Quentin Amsden, having him healthy and back with us, is a big thing. He’s our vocal leader; he’s a guy that kind of gets us going I think not just offensively but on the defensive end to spark some offense,” said Groves.
No LCA player was able to fill the scoring vacuum left by Martin’s absence. Brayden Lane, Cameron Shepherd and Seth Martin scored four points each for the Cougars. The team slipped to 2-3 with its first loss in three outings. LCA will play host to Portage Christian Friday night at 7 p.m.
“They’re pretty quick and athletic. They’ll throw a lot of pressure. It’ll be similar to how Triton played tonight,” said Hohm of Portage. “And then we’ve got North Miami and the Bethany Tournament coming up. We’ll see kind of what Seth’s prognosis is, and if he can’t go we’ll get some practice and be able to kind of be prepared to play without him.”
Triton improves to 2-2. The Trojan will host Pioneer in a Hoosier North Athletic Conference-opener Friday.
“I told our kids I’m excited. We’ve just got to keep getting better. We’re close, but we just have to keep working and getting there,” Groves said.
Triton won Tuesday’s junior varsity contest, 60-20. Lucas Cabrera scored 11 points for the JV Trojans. Ben Jackson and Josiah Miler scored five apiece for Lakeland.