CULVER — And the award for best supporting cast goes to Triton’s boys basketball team.
With senior starters Clay Yeo and Seth Glingle saddled with third-quarter foul trouble, the Trojans actually extended their advantage and pulled away in the fourth frame for a 44-32 win over host Culver Community in Class A Sectional 51 semifinal action at John R. Nelson Gymnasium Friday.
No. 10 Triton shoots for its sixth straight sectional crown tonight at 6:30 p.m. against No. 8 Michigan City Marquette, an 81-46 victor over Westville in Friday’s nightcap.
“We had major foul trouble,” Triton head coach Jason Groves, whose team avenged Jan. 11’s 46-42 home loss against Culver, said. “Seth and Clay had three fouls, Cody Shively had three fouls. The guys that came in did a decent job. Obviously we’re a different team without Clay. They weathered the storm.
“Culver plays hard, is well coached, and knows how to defend us; we usually play them three times a year with Bi-County and sectional,” he added. “It’s a bad matchup for us. We knew it would be a grind-it-out, possession basketball game. We handled it better this game; last game we panicked.”
Triton held a 23-18 edge when Glingle went to the sideline with 6:41 left in the third quarter with his third personal, followed by Yeo a single second later.
Culver junior Trent Elliott, cashing in against a new defender with Yeo out of the game, rattled in a jumper off the dribble in the paint to make it a 23-20 game on the same possession. The Cavs, though, scored just one more bucket over the final 6:31 of the frame against Triton’s stingy man-to-man defense and the Trojans carried a 28-22 surplus into the fourth.
“We didn’t close the gap like we wanted,” Culver head coach Kyle Elliott said. “Two things happened: (Triton) picked up the defensive intensity when Clay went out, and our offensive execution didn’t pick up.”
Yeo returned in the fourth quarter and recorded 11 of his game-high 16 points in the final 5:37. He also finished with eight rebounds, four assists, and three steals — game-leading totals all.
“We wanted to contain Clay Yeo, and I thought we defended him fairly well as well as (Tanner) Shepherd, their second-leading scorer,” the Culver boss said. “It wasn’t just one kid, all of their kids contributed to a balanced attack. We had some double teams that our secondary rotation was slow to pick up and we gave up three or four easy baskets that way.”
The Trojans, who led from Cody Shively’s game-opening basket in the post on, built a 21-9 lead midway through the second quarter, thanks to a pair of triples — one from each corner — by Skyler Reichert and another from Joey Corder.
“(Corder and Reichert) are both sophomores and playing better, with more confidence, and as a result they’re getting quite a bit of playing time,” Groves said. “Skyler shoots the ball extremely well. Joey is shooting the ball better. I talked to him about being confident and when he gets an open shot to knock it down. I’m pleased that the sophomores took (Culver) out of their zone and into man.”
Trent Elliott finished with a game-high 13 points for the Cavs, who finished 31 percent from the field. Culver senior center Micah Budzinski added eight points, eight rebounds, and four blocked shots.
“First of all I’m very proud of the kids’ effort,” Kyle Elliott said. “We thought we had to keep it in the 40s to have a chance, and we did. If you’re going to beat Triton and do it at tournament time you have to play an almost perfect game.”
Culver finishes its season at 13-9 and graduates Budzinski, four-year starting point guard Collin Stevens, Tucker Schultz, Kyle Vlach, and Bradley Beaver.
“Collin Stevens and Micah Budzinski are two guys who are four-year starters,” Kyle Elliott said. “They’ve spent countless hours in the weight room making themselves better players, and as a result made our program better. Tucker Schultz, Bradley Beaver, and Kyle Vlach are three other kids who bit into the program.
“I hope we’re headed in the right direction, and I know we are because we’ve had three consecutive winning seasons,” he added. “The drawback is that we don’t have any championships, and I measure success on the basis of championships. As far as developing players, improving players, and turning out quality young men, we’re losing five of them. At the same time, we’re excited with what we have coming back.”
• CLASS A SECTIONAL 51
TRITON 44, CULVER 32
Score by quarters
Triton: 11 23 28 44
Culver: 7 15 22 32
TRITON (44): Joey Corder 2 1-2 7, Clay Yeo 3 10-13 16, Bryson Mosier 0 0-0 0, Tanner Shepherd 3 0-1 6, Seth Glingle 2 1-2 5, Cody Shively 2 0-0 4, Drew Mosson 0 0-0 0, Skyler Reichert 2 0-2 6. TOTALS: 14 12-18 44.
CULVER (32): Kyle Vlach 0 0-0 0, Everett Krueger 1 4-4 6, Jordan Sanders 0 0-0 0, Collin Stevens 1 0-0 3, Trent Elliott 3 7-8 13, Jacoda Anderson 0 0-0 0, Tucker Schultz 1 0-0 2, Micah Budzinski 3 2-3 8. TOTALS: 9 13-15 32.
3-point goals: Triton 4 (Corder 2, Reichert 2), Culver 1 (Stevens); Turnovers: Triton 10, Culver 11; Rebounds: Triton 27 (Yeo 8), Culver 14 (Budzinski 8); Assists: Triton 10 (Yeo 4), Culver 6 (Stevens, Budzinski 3); Steals: Triton 6 (Yeo 3), Culver 4; Fouls (fouled out): Triton 17 (Glingle), Culver 19 (none); Records: Triton 16-5, Culver 13-9 (final).