By Adam Yoder
BOURBON – Triton boys basketball head coach Jason Groves’ 2020-21 squad returned to familiar territory this past year. A Hoosier North Athletic Conference championship (6-1, tied with LaVille) and more importantly, a sectional championship and regional runner-up finish, buoyed the Trojans to the tenth-place spot in the InkFreeNews Top Ten area teams this year.
The Trojans’ 20 wins were the most since the 2013 squad earned red rings and medals as the 1A state runners-up.
By the time the annual Bi-County tournament semifinals came around in January, Triton had already jumped out to an 9-2 start with convincing wins over Plymouth, Oregon-Davis, Culver and LaVille sprinkled in.
Ashton Oviedo carried the scoring load in those first ten games, scoring over 25 points five different times in the stretch.
Oviedo would eventually become a first team All-HNAC recipient for not only his scoring ability but also for his ball-hawking defense that would drive opponents crazy all year long.
As the HNAC schedule wore on, the LaVille Lancers would avenge the Bi-County loss by defeating the Trojans by one (44-43) to secure at least a share of the HNAC title, which would eventually come to fruition.
The workhorse, do-everything guy throughout the season, and especially during the conference run was Tyson Yates. The junior averaged over 16 points, four rebounds, and three assists during the seven-game slate and was named the HNAC Player of the Year by the conference.
The group of Bruce Johnson, Cole McKinney and John Gardner were all named Honorable Mention All-HNAC, as well.
February saw what became a staple of the latest version of Trojan Basketball: improvement. Their defense, passing, and ability to handle adversity continued to grow from what had already been a stellar start to the season.
The adversity came with that loss to LaVille and a 12-point loss to Argos. However, the flashes of what “could be” come tourney time was evident as the Trojans piled up convincing wins over Caston, North Judson, and Bremen.
They capped off the regular season with a must-win victory at Knox (44-30) to clinch the HNAC title. As any coach will tell you, and surely made Groves smile going into the sectional, was that improvement and hard work combined with talent can lead to tournament success.
On their home floor in that sectional, the Trojans defeated West Central (88-38), Oregon-Davis (59-41), and Argos (59-43) to grab Triton’s first sectional title since 2016.
The following week, Oviedo would pour in 33 points in a double-overtime victory over the Caston Comets in the regional semi-finals.
In the Elite Eight, Triton would run into the eventual state runner-up Kouts. Despite Yates’ 19 points and five rebounds, the Mustangs proved to be too much for the Trojans (56-42), who would end their season as the regional runners-up and a 20-6 overall record.