LAKEVILLE — Last year, LaVille knocked Triton off its undefeated and sole possession of the Northern State Conference lead perch.
This time around the Lancers spent the first 30 minutes acting like a pesky fly that just kept buzzing around the Trojans’ heads, but a late push propelled Class A No. 2 Triton to a 69-59 NSC win at Dale E. Cox Gymnasium Saturday.
With the win, the Trojans enjoy a one-game edge in the league loss column with two games to play.
“We’d make a play; (LaVille) would make a play,” Triton head coach Jason Groves said. “They’re an improving team, they’re a well-coached team, and we knew we’d get their best shot.
“This was a big win,” he added. “That puts us a game up in the conference with two games to go, but we can’t look past anybody. Bremen’s getting better all the time, and Knox is always tough. Both teams have good coaches. For us it’s keeping focused and staying the course.”
Despite the final double-digit spread and Triton leading the entire second half, the Lancers, who finished 10 of 17 from 3-point range, stayed very much alive right into the final two minutes.
With Triton up 60-56 just inside of two minutes to go, LaVille center Nick Amor popped the ball loose, ran down a hustle steal but fired short on a 10-foot baseline jumper in transition.
The Trojans pulled down the rebound, burned clock and located senior Griffyn Carpenter in the post for a conventional 3-point play and 63-56 lead with 1:12 left in the game.
“We were able to hang with them for 3 1/2 quarters, maybe 3 7/8 quarters,” LaVille head coach Michael Edison said. “It was a 10-point final, but it was four or five points for most of the game. It came down to a key possession or two: a key rebound by them, key scores, and we didn’t get some stops when we needed them.”
With the Lancers applying full-court pressure during the last minute, the Trojans aggressively attacked long for a couple of layups to break open the game.
“We had the lead, and they extended the defense,” Groves said. “We told our guys to be aggressive, attack. If a layup’s there, take it. If not, pull it out. It was nice to see our guys play smart and make good decisions that let us put the game out of reach.”
Super sophomore Clay Yeo supplied a game-high 21 points, including a fourth-quarter breakaway dunk, and handed out five assists for Triton. Carpenter chipped in 14 of his 19 points during the first half, younger brother Quentyn Carpenter dished out six assists and collected four steals, and Austin Davis ripped down seven rebounds.
Senior forward Jordan Everett, though, gave the Trojans perhaps their biggest lift with 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds — eight on the offensive end alone.
“We just said in the locker room that if all of our players had (Everett’s) desire, his heart, we’d be a better team,” Groves said. “We had him for eight offensive rebounds. That’s just heart and desire. That’s saying, ‘I’m going to get the ball no matter what.’ It’s nice to see him have a big game during a big game. I’m really proud of him.”
Everett also drilled a pair of third-quarter treys, each immediately following LaVille 3-pointers.
“It’s not like our players didn’t know that (Everett’s) a shooter,” Edison said. “When Griffyn drives we’d get pressure with two defenders, and we were searching for Yeo. Everett wasn’t just open, he was wide open. He hit 3s twice on the next possession after we’d hit a 3. He kind of negated our surge.”
Junior guard Jordyn Williams led the Lancers with 20 points, highlighted by a 5-of-7 performance from behind the arc, and added four assists and two steals. Andrew Hostetler drained a trio of triples on his way to 11 points, Trenton Stout added 10 points off the bench, and Amor clutched eight caroms for LaVille.
But while the Lancers lit it up from 3-point range, they hit just 7 of 14 from the charity stripe.
“We had some key misses, and that really adds up,” Edison said. “I suppose every point adds up, but sometimes it feels like a critical time where you could really use a point or two. It boils down to we didn’t make the key plays when we needed them. We didn’t get stops when we needed stops.”
Both teams play again Thursday. Triton hosts Bremen, while LaVille heads to New Prairie.
• TRITON 69, LaVILLE 59
Score by quarters
Triton: 12 37 51 69
LaVille: 13 33 45 59
TRITON (69): Griffyn Carpenter 8 1-1 19, Clay Yeo 8 3-4 21, Marc Lindsey 0 0-0 0, Quentyn Carpenter 2 3-4 7, Austin Davis 3 1-2 7, Jordan Everett 5 0-2 12, Blake Lemler 1 1-2 3. TOTALS: 27 9-15 69.
LaVILLE (59): Trenton Stout 4 0-0 10, Jordyn Williams 7 1-2 20, Drew Dutoi 0 0-0 0, Landon Manuel 0 0-0 0, Codee Kimbel 3 2-6 8, Andrew Hostetler 3 2-2 11, Nick Amor 2 2-4 6, Justin Baker 2 0-0 4. TOTALS: 21 7-14 59.
3-point goals: Triton 6 (G. Carpenter 2, Yeo 2, Everett 2), LaVille10 (Williams 5, Hostetler 3, Stout 2); Turnovers: Triton 11, LaVille 17; Rebounds: Triton 26 (Everett 10), LaVille 22 (Amor 8); Assists: Triton 15 (Q. Carpenter 6), LaVille 13 (Williams 4); Steals: Triton 8 (Q. Carpenter 4), LaVille 4 (Williams 2); Fouls (fouled out): Triton 16 (none), LaVille 18 (none); Records: Triton 13-3 (5-0 NSC), LaVille 8-7 (2-3 NSC).
JV score: Triton 44, LaVille 23.