Triton wins 5th straight sectional
BOURBON — The mention of the inbound play that produced Clay Yeo’s sectional final-winning shot brought a smile to the Triton boys basketball star’s face.
“I was arguing with (head) coach (Jason) Groves about what play to run,” Yeo, who fired in a game-high 30 points, said. “I guess he was right.”
That play call — an inbound lob from senior point guard Zak Shively to a leaping Yeo in the paint with 7 seconds left in the game — resulted in the go-ahead bucket from 10 feet and provided the winning margin in Class A No. 5 Triton’s scintillating 56-55 Sectional 51 win over Marquette Catholic Saturday at The Trojan Trench.
Host Triton (19-5), a state finalist last season, begins its regional title defense in the second game Saturday against fourth-ranked Kouts (19-3). Pioneer (19-5) faces the winner of Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian (8-15) and Fort Wayne Canterbury (16-6) in the opener.
“We haven’t run that play in awhile,” Groves said of the game-winning out-of-bounds play. “We ran it a lot at the beginning of the season, but teams looked for it so we got away from it. Unless (Marquette) had film from way back they probably hadn’t seen it. We have a couple options with Clay: we can lob or set a cross screen and slip him. When I saw the big kid back away I’m saying ‘throw the lob! Throw the lob!’ Clay made a nice play, and Zak made a nice read.”
After watching a 16-point halftime lead evaporate by the middle of the third frame, Yeo put the Trojans on his back and carried the squad to victory. The 6-foot-6 junior scored 16 of his team’s 19 fourth-quarter points and recorded the assist on the other three points — a Tanner Shepherd triple from the left corner. He also posted five rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
“They trust me with the ball,” Yeo said. “I’ve been in this situation before in the Bi-County. We know what we have to do to win, and we expect to win.
“(Marquette’s) big men are so strong,” he added. “They’re tremendous on the boards, and we got banged up. They got the ball inside and outmuscled us. I give my teammates so much credit; they know how to hold together.”
To underscore the magnitude of Yeo’s offensive performance, six of his seven second-half field goals provided the Trojans with one-point edges in a game featuring 14 lead changes — 12 in the fourth stanza. For good measure, Yeo defended 6-6 freshman Ryan Fazekas’ off balanced runner from the left side with 3 seconds left in the game.
“Clay wasn’t going to be denied,” Groves said. “He had a look in his eyes that the other kids sensed. I think Clay, with all the big games he’s played, gets bored with certain situations. When the lights are on, like tonight, that’s his time.”
Triton actually looked poised to rout the Blazers heading into the intermission. Four different Trojans struck from 3-point range, including an unlikely first-quarter triple from sophomore forward Cody Shively, and Triton’s triangle-and-two defense held Marquette to 30 percent from the field en route to a 32-16 lead.
“The first half was an aberration,” Groves said. “Our team usually doesn’t have everyone scoring like that; it was great to see them get us off to a good start.
“In the second half when Marquette made the run and took the lead, a lot of teams would have let their heads fall and let the game get away from them,” he added. “It was really great the way our guys hung in and kept competing and found a way to win. This sectional means a lot. We lose four of our five starters from last year; we struggled in the summer to win. Our guys have stepped up late in the season.”
A key halftime adjustment sparked a 12-0 half-opening run — highlighted by back-to-back 3s from Jaylen Jemison — as the Blazers opened driving lanes, as well as scoring opportunities for 6-8 post men Jasmin Biberovic and Adeleke Solanke. In fact, the last of Biberovic’s four rebound buckets gave Marquette its first lead, 36-35 with 1:44 left in the third frame.
“We turned our guys who were being faceguarded into screeners in the second half,” Marquette head coach Donovan Garletts said. “Instead of running them off screens we had them screen and we were able to get it inside and we hit some big shots from outside.”
Biberovic finished with a team-high 20 points and game-best 14 rebounds, followed by Jemison with 12 points. Solanke pulled in 10 rebounds, and although he scored a modest six points those three buckets came courtesy of a pair of loud two-handed dunks and an above-the-rim tip-in.
For the evening, Marquette out-rebounded Triton 35-19.
“I thought we should have had two free throws to win the game at the end,” Garletts said. “But that’s how the cookies crumbles; that’s how the cookie crumbles.”
• TRITON 56, MARQUETTE 55
At Class A Sectional 51 championship at Bourbon
Score by quarters
Triton: 12 32 37 56
Marquette: 6 16 36 55
TRITON (56): Clay Yeo 12 4-8 30, Zak Shively 3 0-0 6, Bryson Mosier 1 0-0 3, Tanner Shepherd 3 0-0 9, Seth Glingle 1 0-0 2, Cody Shively 2 1-1 6, Drew Mosson 0 0-0 0; Totals: 22 5-9 56.
MARQUETTE (55): Tommy Anderson 2 2-2 7, Patrick Cannon 1 1-1 3, Jaylen Jemison 5 0-0 12, Adeleke Solanke 3 0-0 6, JoVonte Peals 0 1-2 1, Spencer Sacks 0 0-0 0, Ryan Fazekas 3 0-0 6, Jasmin Biberovic 8 4-4 20; Totals: 22 8-9 55.
3-pointers: Triton 7 (Shepherd 3, Yeo 2, Mosier, C. Shively), Marquette 3 (Jamison 2, Anderson); Turnovers: Marquette 18, Triton 11; Rebounds: Triton 19 (Yeo 5), Marquette 35 (Biberovic 14, Solanke 10); Assists: Triton 9 (Anderson, Solanke 3), Marquette 12 (Yeo, Z. Shively 4); Steals: Marquette 7, Triton 10 (Yeo 3); Fouls (fouled out): Triton 11 (none), Marquette 11 (Solanke).
Records: Triton 19-5, Marquette 13-10 (final).