By Nick Goralczyk
CULVER – It only took three quarters for Triton’s Ashton Oviedo to call his team’s shot.
Oviedo stared down the Argos student section as the buzzer ran out on the third period of Saturday’s sectional championship game and made sure the Dragon faithful understood how the game would end as he shouted, “It’s over, it’s over!”
The Triton junior guard had scored the final four points of the quarter and helped the Trojans build a 43-22 lead going into the fourth. Triton would hold steady in that final quarter to seal an impressive 59-43 victory over No. 11 Argos.
“No, not really,” Oviedo admitted when asked if he thought the game would play out the way it did. “I thought it would be a close game. We did not have a good start but after that we really came together as a team and won as a team.”
The Trojans were stifled in the first quarter, getting outplayed and facing a 9-5 deficit going into the second. Argos was clearly the better team through the first 10 minutes of the game but despite that effort the Dragons only led by four points, 12-8, two minutes into the second quarter.
Then the Trojans found their game.
Tyson Yates got a steal and went the length of the court to grab a bucket and the foul. The three-point play put Triton down 12-11. Yates then scored the next four points of the game, the first time the Trojans had tasted the lead and they never gave it back.
Argos (18-6) hit a three late in the half to make it 20-16, clinging to some momentum. But Yates and teammate John Gardner were far too greedy to let the Dragons take that to the locker room. With just 0.6 seconds left in the first half Yates made a smooth in-bounds pass to a ready and willing Gardner who got open and quickly popped a shot in for a buzzer-beating score. The deficit was not huge at 22-16 but it was clear that Triton was in control heading into the locker room.
The Trojans went from struggling to run an offense in the first 10 minutes to running circles around Argos the final six minutes of the half, and truly for the rest of the game. What changed?
“It was just defense,” explained Oviedo. “The intensity of our defense really changed and we really amped it up in the second and third quarters.”
That sentiment was echoed by Triton’s head coach Jason Groves, “Tonight our guys got after it defensively and it led to a lot of offense.”
Triton would end up forcing 17 turnovers on the night which led to 24 points. Oviedo, who scored 14 points, led all players with five steals. Yates added four takeaways in addition to leading Triton with 17 points. Gardner tallied 15 points in the game for Triton while Bruce Johnson (5 points), Cole McKinney (5) and Cole Shively (3) all contributed to the scorebook as well for the Trojans. Johnson led the team with six boards. Argos was led offensively by Michael Richard’s 20-point effort.
The win avenged a 51-39 loss that Triton suffered to Argos back on February 20 as well as sectional losses in both the 2019 and 2020 championship games. Saturday’s win was the Trojans first sectional title since 2016. But Triton is less concerned with the various tidbits of history that its win brings and more focused on what it will deliver next Saturday: a trip home.
“It’s huge,” Groves said of getting to play the regional on his home court. “I told the guys, ‘Let’s get there and you never know what can happen in the regional…Let’s give ourselves a chance.’”
The Trojans (19-5) advance to next week’s regional held at Triton High School where they will play Hoosier North Athletic Conference foe Caston (10-15) in the 10 a.m. game. Triton defeated the Comets 56-37 on February 6. The 12 p.m. game will be played between Fremont (12-11) and No. 3 Kouts (26-2).
With No. 11 Argos bowing out to Triton, Kouts and Lafayette Central Catholic are the lone remaining ranked teams in the northern part of the state. Of the 16 remaining 1-A teams only 11 have winning records. The winner of the Triton regional will meet the winner of the Frankfort regional. Frankfort will be hosting No. 13 Central Catholic (8-10), Cowan (15-8), Seton Catholic (9-9) and Three Rivers Conference member Southwood (15-10). Semi-state games will be held at Lafayette Jefferson and the venerable and historic North Side Gymnasium in Elkhart.