Changes put Triton in familiar place in win over Culver

BOURBON — Triton’s boys basketball team needed some sort of in-game spark against an inspired Culver Community squad Friday.
A couple of key adjustments served the purpose.
Moved from a wing to the point against Culver’s active 2-3 zone, Triton’s Clay Yeo fired in a game-high 23 points, while defensively the 6-foot-6 junior locked down on Culver leading scorer Trent Elliott in the second half to lead the Trojans to a 46-41 come-from-behind Class A Sectional 51 semifinal win at The Trojan Trench.
No. 5 Triton seeks its fifth straight sectional crown tonight at 7 p.m. against Marquette, a 42-37 winner over Westville.
“Offensively Culver was extending the zone and was leaving the middle open,” Triton head coach Jason Groves, whose team dug a 12-point first-half hole, said. “We put Clay on the point and let him create out of it. The key was getting in the middle.
“I was hoping that Culver would come out a little stagnant after having the bye; obviously that didn’t happen,” he added. “Defensively we switched Clay on Elliott. Tanner (Shepherd) wasn’t doing a bad job, Clay just gives us more length. Elliott was hurting us coming off double screens, and Culver found the mismatches and exploited them. We moved people around in the second half, and I thought our guys did a nice job adjusting with the matchups.”
After Elliott capped off a 19-2 run with a trey from the right corner to give Culver a 21-9 lead with 3:42 left in the first half, Triton outscored the Cavs 24-5 over the next 13-plus minutes.
For the game, Culver finished 17 of 48 — 35 percent — from the field.
“We had some good looks, but we also rushed a few of our possessions,” Culver head coach Kyle Elliott said. “We jumped out to a lead, but it’s not like Triton was going to fold. When Triton was making that comeback we had some turnovers and Triton capitalized. We needed to protect the ball and get quality possessions.
“Defensively our problem was the same problem we’ve had all year: dribble penetration,” he continued. “We were able to defend the perimeter, but once they penetrated we had to rotate off our guys and got out of position. That makes it harder to box out, and we gave up second- and third-chance points.”
Triton senior Zak Shively — the only senior to see the floor for either team — added 12 of his 14 points in the second half, thanks in large part to dribble penetration. His long 2-pointer off a kickout from Seth Glingle gave the Trojans the lead for good, 27-26 with 3:40 left in the third frame. Shively also added four steals and three assists.
“Zak played a heckuva game,” Groves said. “He’s a senior and he doesn’t want the season to end.”
Yeo, who added a team-high nine rebounds, and Shively combined on a 9-of-10 showing from the foul line during the final 1:34. At times an Achilles’ heel for the Trojans, they hit at a key 10-of-11 clip from the charity stripe.
“We’ve told them free throws are going to bite us in the butt, thankfully they didn’t tonight,” Groves said. “The first thing we told them in the locker room after the game was we won tonight because we hit 10 of 11 at the line. It’s nice to see our leaders like Clay and senior leaders like Zak step up and hit free throws.”
Trent Elliott, a 6-4 sophomore, finished with a team-high 13 points and four assists. Junior center Micah Budzinski recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and sophomore forward Jacoda Anderson blocked four shots.
“I’m very pleased with our effort,” the Culver skipper said. “We came in with confidence, and our kids thought they could win this game. (Junior forward) Tucker Schultz spent most of the season playing JV. We challenged him with guarding Clay Yeo and he did his role. I’m very proud of his effort.”
Triton built a 35-28 lead midway through the fourth quarter when Culver unveiled its full-court press for the first time and forced two straight turnovers, both resulting in baskets from junior Kyle Vlach to make it a 35-32 game with 3:34 to go.
Shively, though, answered with a basket in the paint and the Trojans shot free throws the rest of the way.
Culver finishes the season 11-10 and will return everyone but Johnny Anderson.
“Johnny Anderson didn’t practice all week; he’s had extreme back pain,” Elliott said. “I felt bad for him that he didn’t get to play in his last game. He’s a nice young man and has worked extremely hard for us for four years. We had our second winning season in a row, which by Culver standards is pretty nice. However, it’s all about putting trophies in the trophy case. Our kids expect to win, and we have to get at it this summer to take that next step.”
At Bourbon
Score by quarters
Culver: 8 21 26 41
Triton: 7 17 31 46
CULVER (41): Kyle Vlach 2 0-0 4, Jordan Sanders 0 0-0 0, Collin Stevens 2 1-2 7, Trent Elliott 5 2-2 13, Jacoda Anderson 3 0-2 6, Tucker Schultz 0 0-0 0, Micah Budzinski 5 1-1 11. TOTALS: 17 4-7 41.
TRITON (46): Clay Yeo 8 7-8 23, Zak Shively 6 2-2 14, Bryson Mosier 0 0-0 0, Tanner Shepherd 1 0-0 2, Seth Glingle 2 0-0 4, Cody Shively 1 1-1 3, Drew Mosson 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 18 10-11 46.
3-point goals: Culver 3 (Stevens 2, Elliott), Triton none; Turnovers: Culver 12, Triton 14; Rebounds: Culver 29 (Budzinski 10), Triton 32 (Yeo 9); Assists: Culver 10 (Elliott 4), Triton 5 (Z. Shively 3); Steals: Culver 7, Triton 9 (Z. Shively 4); Fouls (fouled out): Culver 14 (none), Triton 11 (none); Records: Culver 11-10 (final), Triton 18-5.