KNOX — With leading scorer Griffyn Carpenter out and three starters in foul trouble early, Triton got some excellent preparation for the state tournament next week.
The Class A, No. 3 Trojans — already minus their leading scorer after he was injured in a game at Argos Tuesday — overcame a rocky first quarter in which Clay Yeo, Quentyn Carpenter and Austin Davis were each charged with three fouls and the visitors fell behind 16-13 at the quarter break, ultimately escaping Knox with a 52-46 victory in the regular-season finale for both teams Friday at Weinberg Gymnasium.
“Before the game we said this is going to be a great test for us,” said Triton head coach Jason Groves. “I couldn’t imagine all the foul trouble we got into, but that helped, too. A lot of different guys had to step up, we had to fight through a little adversity, which is nice. So yeah, this is a great game, I think, heading into sectionals.”
Despite a 7-0 quarter-opening run by Triton, Knox still had its chances in the fourth period.
Triton senior Jordan Everett opened the frame with a 3-pointer off the top of the key — one of just two triples by the Trojans — substitute guard Zak Shively scored a traditional 3-pointer 16 seconds later, and Quentyn Carpenter split a pair of free throws drawing a foul on the baseline to give the visitors their biggest lead of the night, 41-32 with 6 minutes remaining.
Knox stayed in the game with eight points from game-high scorer Josh Risner, who finished with 20 points Friday, but the Redskins went 2-for-6 from the charity stripe in the frame, while the Trojans were in the double bonus with the lead and nearly a minute left to play, closing out the game with 6-of-6 shooting from the line as Knox players were forced to foul to stretch the clock.
“I thought we had one 3-minute stretch in the third quarter where we took some bad shots and didn’t defend like we needed to and that hurt us... but other than that I thought we battled; I thought we competed,” said Knox head coach Todd Boldry. “I thought we made them earn everything they got. They’re just an awfully good basketball team that’s well-coached, and if we’re going to beat a team like that we’re going to need 32 minutes and not that 28 or 29.”
The Trojans had already clinched the Northern State Conference title outright with a sixth conference win over Bremen on Feb. 10, but they were able to reach another NSC milestone Friday with their first perfect 7-0 conference mark since Triton’s 2007-08 state championship season.
“Our conference has a lot of good coaches. We know each other so well; the coaches prepare for each other so well,” said Groves. “So it’s definitely an honor to be able to go through the conference undefeated. The kids set that goal to win conference at the beginning of the year, and being as tough a conference as it is I couldn’t imagine going 7-0, but our kids did a nice job doing that.”
Triton was led by Yeo’s 17 points Friday, despite the sophomore standout’s foul trouble severely limiting his playing time in the second half, and Shively scored 10 points, including five helping his team get over the hump in the fourth.
The Redskins were led by Risner’s 20 and Elliott Coad’s 12 and finished out the regular season at 8-12 and 3-4 in the NSC.
Triton drew the bye at the Class A Triton Sectional and will face the winner of the tourney opener between South Central and Marquette Catholic in a semifinal Friday, while Knox plays Calumet Tuesday in class 3A Sectional 18 play.
“Overall, you play six guys and you look at ‘Were those six guys focused? Were they determined?’ And I think they were,” Boldry said. I” think if we can continue to have that kind of effort and that kind of mental game we’ll be in good shape next week.”
• TRITON 52,
Score by quarters
Triton: 13 28 34 52
Knox: 16 23 32 46
TRITON (52): Clay Yeo 5 7-9 17, Zak Shively 4 2-3 10, Dane Kennedy 0 0-0 0, Marc Lindsey 0 0-0 0, Quentyn Carpenter 0 5-6 5, Austin Davis 3 1-3 7, Jordan Everett 1 4-4 7, Blake Lemler 3 0-1 6, Cody Shively 0 0-0 0; Totals: 16 19-26 52.
KNOX (46): Quinn Biddle 2 0-0 4, Conner Carlson 0 0-0 0, Dylan Short 3 2-4 8, Patrick Ambrose 1 0-0 2, Steven Graman 0 0-0 0, Elliott Coad 4 3-3 12, Josh Risner 9 1-5 20, Beau Bennett 0 0-0 0; Totals: 19 6-12 46.
3-point goals: Triton 1 (Everett), Knox 2 (Coad, Risner); Turnovers: Triton 15, Knox 10; Rebounds: Triton 32 (Yeo 8, Everett 8), Knox 14 (Risner 5); Assists: Triton 8 (Shively 2, Everett 2), Knox 8 (Biddle 2, Short 2, Ambrose 2); Steals: Triton 4 (Yeo 2), Knox 6 (Biddle 2, Risner 2); Blocks: Triton 4 (Yeo, Kennedy, Everett, Lemler); Fouls (fouled out): Triton 18 (Davis), Knox 23 (none); Records: Triton 1-3 (7-0 NSC), Knox 8-12 (3-4 NSC).
JV score: Triton 31 (Bryson Mosier 9), Knox 18 (Austin Hansen 8).