BOURBON — Westville’s Kevin Stone-Tharp pulled down Clay Yeo from behind in the third quarter, depriving the Triton star of one of his patented breakaway dunks.
That was about the only thing denied Yeo and the No. 2 Trojans Saturday.
The 6-foot-5 sophomore forward scored 20 of his game-high 28 points in the first half, hauled in seven rebounds and swarmed the floor defensively to lead Triton to its fourth straight Class A Boys Basketball Sectional 50 crown, 65-37 over the Blackhawks at The Trojan Trench Saturday.
“I came out (Friday) night a little nervous, and I don’t know why,” Yeo said. “I wanted to make up for it tonight. We also wanted to send a message to the rest of the regional field that we want to go farther than we did last year.”
In that regional, the host Trojans look to capture their third title in four years; Triton (20-3) meets Pioneer (15-9) in the second semifinal, while Morgan Township (19-4), which dethroned defending state champion Bowman Academy, faces Fort Wayne Canterbury (17-4) in the opener Saturday.
“It’s an honor, that’s for sure,” Triton head coach Jason Groves said of the fourth straight sectional trophy. “It’s so difficult to win a sectional in Indiana. It’s great for our seniors to never have to lose a sectional game. It says a lot about our kids.”
In the sectional final, Yeo unleashed his versatile offensive arsenal, jump-shooting, driving and backcutting his way to a 9-of-16 mark from the field and 9-for-10 from the charity stripe. His conventional 3-point play off a backdoor feed from Zak Shively put Triton, which led wire to wire and recorded its 15th straight win, up by double digits for good, 25-13 with 4:45 left in the first half.
“When you’re hitting from the outside it’s easier to drive because the defense has to contest every shot,” Yeo said. “I give credit to my teammates; they were setting screens and getting me the ball.”
Meanwhile, another Triton sophomore, guard Quentyn Carpenter, a bit gun-shy from the field recently, drilled all four of his 3-point tries to finish with 12 points. Just as importantly, he held Westville’s Dan Warnke, who hit seven 3-pointers against Argos Friday, to 1 of 6 from 3-point range.
“I found myself open a lot,” Carpenter said. “They’ve been giving me crap because I haven’t been shooting. I’ve got to shoot when I’m that open.
“In the first half (Warnke) hit a 3 on a step back, and I’ll give him that one,” he added. “I wanted to get in his face and make him work for his buckets. I think he got tired in the second half, and that made it a little easier.”
Carpenter nailed back-to-back second-quarter triples from the right wing off dishes from Blake Lemler and Jordan Everett to put the Trojans on top 22-11 with 6:11 left in the first half. Yeo located Carpenter in the left corner for his third trey as Triton opened up a 50-22 lead at the 2:40 mark of the third stanza.
“It’s been like that since the fifth grade,” Yeo said of his classmate. “I love that kid. He’s my best friend. I know what he’s going to do before he does it.”
Groves appreciated the play of his talented sophomore duo, as well as his entire team’s man-to-man defensive effort, with full-court pressure and an occasional 1-3-1 half-court trap thrown in the mix.
“(Yeo) really came to play,” Groves said. “I don’t think he played his best (Friday), and tonight he played like he had a chip on his shoulder. Our other sophomore, Quentyn Carpenter, played a great game, too. He shot the ball well, and he did a great job defensively on Warnke.
“We got off to a good start; we were a lot more relaxed,” Groves, whose team fell behind 16-5 to South Central Friday, said. “It started on the defensive end. Our defense spurred our offense a little bit. We’re so much better when we get after it defensively because then we’re better and more active on the offensive end.”
Also for the Trojans, Shively dished out a game-best eight assists off the bench.
“Zak’s been playing a lot more lately,” Groves said. “He does a good job probing the defense and creating opportunities for others. He played a nice game tonight.”
Senior forward Reilly Wilson scored 16 hard-earned points and pulled down six rebounds for Westville, and Jesse Mills added four steals.
“I think South Central ticked (Triton) off a little bit,” Westville head coach Bill Berger said. “They played a lot better tonight and showed why they are where they are in the state rankings. They have a lot of weapons, a high basketball IQ, and I give them all the credit.
“I’m glad our seniors got to experience (a sectional championship game),” he added. “People sometimes think you get there automatically. You see guys get to the World Series or the Super Bowl and think they’re going to get there every year, when really you don’t know when you’re going to get there again.”
CLASS A SECTIONAL 50 FINAL
• TRITON 65, WESTVILLE 37
Score by quarters
Westville: 9 18 24 37
Triton: 16 35 50 65
WESTVILLE (37): Christian Porter 0 0-0 0, Luke Bell 1 0-0 3, Dan Warnke 2 0-0 5, Ryan Gumns 0 0-0 0, Brian Popp 0 0-0 0, Kevin Stone-Tharp 1 2-2 4, Jesse Mills 1 3-6 5, Glen Cole 1 0-0 2, Skyler Rippe 1 0-0 2, Mike Grylewicz 0 0-0 0, Reilly Wilson 6 3-3 16, Lou Grounds 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 13 8-11 37.
TRITON (65): Griffyn Carpenter 2 1-2 5, Clay Yeo 9 9-10 28, Zak Shively 1 0-1 2, Dane Kennedy 0 0-0 0, Cody Shively 1 0-0 2, Marc Lindsey 0 0-0 0, Quentyn Carpenter 4 0-0 12, Austin Davis 2 0-0 4, Jordan Everett 0 0-0 0, Drew Mosson 0 3-3 3, Seth Glingle 1 0-1 2, Blake Lemler 3 1-2 7. TOTALS: 23 14-19 65.
3-point goals: Westville 3 (Warnke, Wilson, Bell), Triton 5 (Q. Carpenter 4, Yeo); Turnovers: Westville 16, Triton 17; Rebounds: Westville 22 (Wilson 6), Triton 35 (Yeo 7); Assists: Westville 5 (Warnke, Mills 2), Triton 13 (Z. Shively 8); Steals: Westville 8 (Mills 4), Triton 7 (G. Carpenter 2); Fouls (fouled out): Westville 18 (Wilson), Triton 15 (none); Records: Westville 11-12 (final), Triton 20-3.