BOURBON — Much was made of “The Trojan Way” at Triton’s boys basketball pep rally Thursday.
True, you can’t talk about the boys basketball program’s recent success — the Trojans will make their third appearance at state in four years at Saturday’s Class A final at Conseco Fieldhouse — without mentioning in the same breath the culture of hard work and high expectations that sixth-year head coach Jason Groves has put in place.
But there was another, perhaps less obvious theme taking shape at the THS auditorium, one that was tangentially related but not quite the same as The Trojan Way. Call it “The Triton Way”.
From WRSW 107.3 sportscaster Rita Price’s speech about community — the Indiana Basketball Hall of Famer is a Bourbon High School graduate — to Assistant Coach Dave Carpenter’s touching assertion that in 25 years of living in the Triton community, Groves was the best coach he’d seen, the community was on display as much as the team it came to celebrate.
“Our fans are the greatest fans in the state. Whether we’re winning or we’re losing they’re always there,” said Triton Athletic Director Mason McIntyre. “When we’re winning, they’re loud, when we’re losing they’re loud. They’re proud to be Trojans, and that’s the bottom line. I know being a Trojan myself I’m so proud to be here and so thankful to have the opportunity.”
In a tight-knit town where seemingly everyone knows everyone, the Triton boys basketball team serves as a microcosm of Bourbon and the surrounding area.
Senior guard Jordan Everett is the younger brother of Arthur L. Trester Mental Attitude Award-winner Jake Everett, who helped spark Triton’s recent run of championships as a senior on the 2007-08 team that won the program its first and only state title to date, while Dave Carpenter is himself an alumnus of the Trojan basketball program along with his brother Jack, who tied a single-season scoring record for the team in 1980-81. Jack’s son, Griffyn Carpenter is the Trojans’ all-time leading scorer and a four-year varsity member with the team, and his younger brother Quentyn is the squad’s point guard.
While Griffyn has been to the state finals before, his brother Quentyn missed the opportunity as a freshman last year, when Triton fell in the regional semifinals to Fort Wayne Blackhawk. He’s happy his brother is along for the ride in his final game as a Trojan.
“My brother is one of my best friends, and he’s one of the toughest kids I know,” said Griffyn. “We’ve been through a lot in our life, some big adversity, but he’s the toughest kids I know. He’s got stitches in his eye right now; he just gets beat around the floor and he comes right back. He’s a tough little guy and I love him, and it’s great to share this final season with him.”
Groves, a 1994 graduate of John Glenn, is a relative outsider in a program as homegrown as Triton’s, but the sixth-year skipper was able to transplant some of his roots with the Trojans this season as former head coach and 17-year Glenn boss Gordon Mosson joined the Triton coaching staff this season.
“It’s great. Obviously, a guy that I learned a lot from,” Groves said. “I learned how to coach from him, I learned a lot from (Bethel) Coach (Mike) Lightfoot about how to coach. Those two guys taught me what I know about basketball, basically, so it’s pretty special to have him here to share this.”
Even McIntyre has personal connections to Triton’s four-year sectional championship run as his younger brother Troy was a starting member of the ‘08 state champion Trojans. But even for those in the community that don’t have a relative on the squad, Triton’s recent run has brought the community together and given them all a taste of success.
“One of the things that’s always great is when you win championships like this, everyone else gets to live it through the kids that are playing,” said McIntyre. “For me, I was living it through Troy when he was playing. There’s guys who graduated 20, 30 years ago who relive it through their kids or just our kids. Everybody’s kids here belong to somebody, and they all just kind of feel that success through them so it’s really exciting to share that together.”