INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Metropolitan’s boys basketball team answered every Triton challenge.
From the No. 2 Trojans’ 12-3 game-opening run right through to Triton senior Griffyn Carpenter’s triple with 5 seconds left, the unranked Pumas responded with defense, big buckets, key offensive rebounds and clutch free throws to down Triton, 59-55 in the Class A state final at Conseco Fieldhouse Saturday.
“I definitely think (Metropolitan) deserves to win,” Triton head coach Jason Groves, making his third state finals appearance in four seasons, said. “They made some big shots, rebounded well, played defense well; I thought in all aspects of the game that they played pretty well. I was proud of the way our kids battled, competed and hung in there.
“It seemed like every time we made a run they came down and made a play offensively,” he added. “I was very impressed with the way they shot the ball.”
Triton, clearly bothered by the Pumas’ quickness and athleticism, gave itself a chance in the final minute. Trailing 52-50, Triton sophomore Clay Yeo looked to penetrate the right side but misfired on a short jumper under heavy pressure with 26 seconds left in the game, and to compound matters, fouled out trying to chase down his own miss.
“They were all up in you, and you can’t go anywhere,” Yeo said. “I tried to get the ball low in the lane all game and tried shot faking to get to the free-throw line.”
After senior guard Jerrbryon Graves, who scored 15 points and dished out five assists, sank two free throws for the Pumas, Carpenter made it a 54-52 game on a runner with 15.1 ticks left.
Metropolitan’s Anthony Jackson then pulled down consecutive offensive rebounds off missed free tosses — the first after teammate Reese Williams split a pair of tries — and sank two charity tosses with 9.8 seconds left in the game to give his team a 57-52 edge.
“We talked this week that at the free-throw line we had to drive these guys back, not just step in the lane,” Groves said. “That’s what athleticism will do. I think their athleticism is what put them over the top.”
Jackson finished with 13 points – 12 of the second-chance variety including the final go-ahead basket with 3:50 left in the third quarter -- and 13 rebounds.
“It feels good to complete the mission,” Jackson said. “We stuck to our mission; now we’ve got this blue thing (medal) on our necks.”
Carpenter, shadowed by a sticky defensive rotation of Raymond Green and Jonathan Kelly, freed himself for a long trey from the left wing with 5 seconds to go – the final basket of his all-time school scoring leader career.
Out of timeouts, Groves accepted a technical foul to stop the clock with 3.9 seconds to go. Graves sank both technical shots to seal the Pumas’ first state title in just their third year of state tournament play.
“That was the only way to stop the clock,” Groves said. “If they miss both free throws we’re down two, and then we can deny the pass. We had decided if we scored we’d call timeout and see what happens. It’s better than letting the clock run out and have no chance.”
For Triton, Yeo finished with a game-high 19 points on 5 of 13 from the field and 9-for-13 at the free-throw line; he also added six boards and six steals.
Carpenter, who chipped in 15 points in his third state championship appearance, drained his first two and final four field-goal attempts, but missed 11 consecutive shots in between against the Pumas’ smothering defense.
“I ascribe that to their defense,” Carpenter said of his drought. “I don’t think we’ve seen a team that athletic and that long. They played the best defense we’ve seen all year.”
Trester Award winner Jordan Everett added 12 points on 4 of 5 from 3-point range and classmate Austin Davis pulled down a team-best eight caroms for Triton which had its 17-game winning streak snapped.
Early on, the Trojans looked poised to collect the program’s second state crown. Metropolitan turned the ball over in each of its first four possessions and Triton cashed in, scoring eight unanswered points to open the game and taking a 12-3 lead on Zak Shively’s bank-shot jumper with 2:14 left in the first frame.
The Pumas, though, then ran off 14 straight points, highlighted by Graves’ buzzer-beater from the timeline to knot the score at 12-12 after a quarter. Graves earned national attention with a 60-foot regional game-winner two weeks ago.
“I knew I was going to hit that shot; I was wide open with 1.1 seconds left,” Graves said. “I was thinking, ‘Why would they leave me open? They know I hit a 60-footer two weeks ago.’ I shoot half-courters on our baseline drills.”
Green, who added 13 points and three steals, quickly clarified the record.
“He says baseline drills,” he said. “He shoots them when he takes a water break, when he goes to the bathroom, when he goes to bed... He shoots a lot of them.”
Triton led 31-25 following a couple of Davis free throws with 5:49 left in the third stanza, but the Pumas rattled off 12 straight points, capped off by a Williams 3, and led the rest of the way.
“I couldn’t be prouder of these kids,” Metropolitan head coach Nick Reich said. “We did exactly what we wanted to do defensively. We did a nice job sticking to the game plan.
“The word of the week all week was attack,” he added. “I thought Jerrbryon did a great job pushing the ball, and he’s made more buzzer-beaters; if there was a record kept, he’d have it.”
The Trojans now graduate Carpenter, Everett, Davis, Blake Lemler, Dane Kennedy and Marc Lindsey.
“It’s been a great career,” Carpenter said. “The only thing I’d trade is a win instead of a loss.”
CLASS A BOYS BASKETBALL STATE FINAL
Score by quarters
Triton: 12 24 33 55
Indy Met: 12 23 39 59
TRITON (55): Griffyn Carpenter 6 0-1 15, Clay Yeo 5 9-13 19, Quentyn Carpenter 1 0-0 3, Austin Davis 1 2-2 4, Jordan Everett 4 0-0 12, Zak Shively 1 0-0 2, Dane Kennedy 0 0-0 0, Cody Shively 0 0-0 0, Marc Lindsey 0 0-0 0, Drew Mosson 0 0-0 0, Seth Glingle 0 0-0 0, Blake Lemler 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 18 11-16 55.
METROPOLITAN (59): Reese Williams 5 1-3 13, William Kennedy 1 0-0 2, Raymond Green 6 0-0 13, Jerrbryon 4 5-6 15, Anthony Jackson 5 3-7 13, Jonathan Kelly 1 0-0 3, Jarad Tapley 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 22 9-16 59.
3-point goals: Triton 8 (Everett 4, G. Carpenter 3, Q. Carpenter), Met 6 (Williams 2, Graves 2, Green, Kelly); Turnovers: Triton 11, Met 13; Rebounds: Triton 32 (Davis 8), Met 35 (Jackson 13); Assists: Triton 11 (Yeo, Q. Carpenter 3), Met 13 (Graves 5); Steals: Triton 8 (Yeo 6), Met 7 (Green 3); Fouls (fouled out): Triton 11 (Yeo), Met 18 (none); Records: Triton 23-4 (final), Met 22-6 (final).