Trojans take semistate
LAFAYETTE — Triton’s defense entered crazy territory Saturday.
As in limiting Lafayette Central Catholic to a woeful 22 percent — 11 of 50 — from the field crazy. As in holding the Class A No. 6 Knights to more than 26 points shy of their season offensive average crazy. As in leaving the uptempo Knights playing a slower-paced half-court game and talking to themselves crazy.
That smothering defense, sprinkled with a bit of timely offense, added up to the Trojans’ 12th straight win, this one a 40-32 Class A Boys Basketball Semistate win over Central Catholic at Lafayette Jefferson’s Crawley Center.
No. 10 Triton’s fourth semistate championship in the past six seasons — all at Lafayette — sets up a state-title tilt against Borden (23-3), also ranked 10th, Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
“If you had told me we were going to hold this team to 32 points I would have thought you were crazy,” Triton head coach Jason Groves said. “Our thought was don’t let a team that can score and wants to push the ball shoot after one or two passes. We’re not necessarily slowing down the game by design, but our defense sets the tone.
“Our kids understand that if they don’t play defense they don’t play,” he added. “Clay (Yeo) with his length is someone who can create problems for the other teams’ better players. Seth Glingle inside is a rock. Cody Shively is strong, and Joey Corder and Tanner Shepherd both have some length. That gives us the makings of a good defensive team.”
Offensively, Indiana All-Star candidate Clay Yeo piled up 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and three blocked shots — all game highs — to power the Trojans.
Yeo, the school’s all-time leading scorer, will make his second trip to the state finals — his first ended with a loss to Indianapolis Metro two years ago — and hopes to end his illustrious Triton career with the program’s second state championship.
“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Yeo said of Triton’s impending state-title game. “It was a grind today. It was a battle the whole way.
“Coach Groves is a very defense-oriented guy,” Yeo added. “He tells us some games we’re not going to shoot very well, then you have to fall back on your defense. Defense is something we can control; the scores keep getting lower as we go deeper in the tournament. The shots weren’t falling for (Central Catholic) and the game definitely swayed our way. Credit our defense, I guess.”
Leading 20-17 at halftime, Triton opened with consecutive backdoor lobs to senior center Seth Glingle — first from Yeo, then from sophomore guard Joey Corder. Glingle twice soared in from the left side, caught and laid in the ball, the second to put the Trojans up 24-17 with 6:34 left in the third frame. Triton led by at least five points the rest of the way.
“My man was sagging off me to help on Clay,” Glingle said. “We thought I’d be open so we drew up two plays to lob it to me on the back side. Joey made a great pass, and I was able to close it out. After those two plays we had Clay’s dunk and that set the tempo for the rest of the game.”
Speaking of Yeo’s dunk, the 6-foot-6 senior drove straight down an open lane in Triton’s half-court offense and threw down a right-handed jam to give Triton a 26-19 lead midway through the third stanza.
“Cody Shively set a very good screen up top and the lane opened,” Yeo said. “I just made a play at the rim.”
According to Knights head coach Dave Barrett, Glingle’s backdoor lobs changed the game.
“The two backdoor lobs gave them a seven-point lead,” Barrett said. “It was an uphill battle for us after that. That was the turning point.”
Although the Trojans’ 6-of-11 fourth-quarter mark from the free throw line left an opening for Central Catholic, Triton’s defense kept the clamps on and allowed the Knights’ penetrate-and-kick offense a paucity of uncontested looks from the perimeter.
“These guys find a way to win,” Groves said. “It doesn’t have to be pretty. It’s a credit to our kids that they have the confidence and will to win, and they executed.”
Also for Triton, Shively chipped in eight points, including a rare second-quarter triple from the right wing to put the Trojans up 20-13 with 1:20 left before the break.
“He is told not to shoot 3-pointers, and he did,” Yeo said with a smile. “He’s just extremely confident.”
Shively, like Glingle, drilled all three of his attempts from the field.
“Cody Shively was huge,” Groves said. “He wanted to be in big situations, and he stepped up. The reason why we’ve advanced this far is because other kids have stepped up.”
Glingle, a reserve on Triton’s state qualifier two years ago, tacked on six points and seven rebounds, and Corder’s baseline drive at the 1:17 mark in the first quarter gave Triton the lead for good, 7-6.
“This is amazing,” Glingle said. “Last time I was just along for the ride. To actually contribute the whole year and end our season at the state finals, it’s what we’ve dreamed about since we were little.”
Jake Churchill finished with a team-high 12 points for the Knights.
Central Catholic’s Cowan Olinger polished off the contest’s first possession with a trey, but the Knights hit only one of their next 15 field-goal attempts and eventually finished 6 of 22 in the first half. The second half only deteriorated for Central Catholic, with a 1-of-12 third-quarter showing on the way to 5-of-28 shooting for the half.
“They didn’t give us many open looks, and when we did get open looks we didn’t hit shots,” Barrett said. “We wanted to be faster, but we never got out and going, and never had any rhythm. We did our job on the defensive end; you hold the other team to 40 points, most games you’ll win, not tonight. We didn’t make enough shots.”
• CLASS A SEMISTATE
CENTRAL CATHOLIC 32
Score by quarters
CC: 6 17 21 32
Triton: 9 20 30 40
CENTRAL CATHOLIC (32): Jake Churchill 3 5-7 12, Jackson Anthrop 0 0-0 0, Mitch Witteveen 1 0-0 2, Cowan Olinger 2 0-0 5, Ryan Deboy 0 0-0 0, Andrew Hubertz 1 0-0 3, Timmy Mills 3 1-2 8, Hayes Cronk 1 0-0 2, Matt Thieme 0 0-0 0, Nick Thompson 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 11 6-9 32.
TRITON (40): Joey Corder 1 2-4 4, Clay Yeo 5 6-7 16, Tanner Shepherd 2 0-2 4, Seth Glingle 3 0-0 6, Cody Shively 3 1-2 8, Drew Mosson 0 0-0 0, Skyler Reichert 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 15 9-15 40.
3-point goals: CC 4 (Churchill, Olinger, Hubertz, Mills), Triton 1 (Shively); Turnovers: CC 11, Triton 10; Rebounds: CC 29 (Hubertz, Mills 4), Triton 29 (Yeo 8); Assists: CC 4, Triton 6 (Yeo 4); Steals: CC 5, Triton 4; Fouls (fouled out): CC 18 (none), Triton 11 (none); Records: CC 18-9 (final), Triton 20-5.