BOURBON — LaVille boys basketball head coach Michael Edison said he considers Triton the best team in the Northern State Conference.
For one night, at least, the Lancers staked their claim to that honor.
Bolstered by Andrew Hostetler’s three treys during an 18-6 run to open the game, a capable team defensive performance, and senior forward Justin Baker’s all-around steady game, LaVille, which never trailed, held on for a 48-46 NSC win over Class A No. 4 Triton at the Trojan Trench Saturday.
The Lancers, who upset then-undefeated Triton on the road two seasons ago, pulled into a tie for the league lead with the Trojans.
“This puts us in a tie with who I still think is the best team in the conference and that’s Triton,” Edison said. “My dad (Hall of Fame coach Jack Edison) has always said that you don’t have to beat a team 10 out of 10 times. You may only be able to beat a team one out of 10 times or one out of 100 times, but if that one time is that night...
“I have a lot of respect for Triton,” he added. “I stood right here two years ago and said I thought it was one of the biggest wins of my life; I’m feeling the same way about this game. It’s a cliche, but we wanted to play within ourselves and not back down. We had times where we went to the ball strong and made sharp cuts. I was afraid (Triton’s) Clay (Yeo) was going to get one of his thunderous jams and get them going.”
LaVille dodged bullet after bullet in the frenetic final 10 seconds. Triton sophomore Tanner Shepherd missed a go-ahead 3-point try from the right corner, and Triton followed with two missed putbacks and a tip-in try at the buzzer as the Lancers escaped with the victory.
“On the last possession we told the guys to look for Clay on the curl or Tanner in the corner,” Triton head coach Jason Groves said. “Tanner’s our best 3-point shooter and he had an open look; those were pretty good odds. We got three other shots after that. We have to take advantage of those opportunities. At least they battled and got those offensive rebounds.”
LaVille 6-foot-4 junior forward Nick Amor, with a whole lot of help defense, held the 6-6 Yeo to a season-low 14 points on 6 of 15 from the field. In a third-quarter play that typified the evening, Yeo drove the right baseline, elevated at the rim but missed over the top of the iron against Amor’s pressure.
“That was a key point, one of many key points in the game, because Clay missed the shot and Nick got the rebound, too,” Edison said. “Clay is so hard to guard; Nick was spent from working so hard defensively. We had originally planned to put two guys on (Yeo); we had five days to prepare, and after three days of practice it wasn’t working very well. We wanted to overload for him, and pick our times to double on him to make it as difficult as possible for him.”
Senior point guard Jordyn Williams scored a team-best 13 points for the Lancers, who turned the ball over just eight times against Triton’s patented pressure and dictated the tempo from the opening tip.
Baker added 12 points, five rebounds, four assists, and a pair of steals. Normally a screener, Baker surprisingly sank treys in back-to-back possessions to give LaVille a 33-27 lead with 2:03 left in the third quarter, and added four charity tosses in the final 2:01 of the game.
“Justin has maybe taken two or three 3-pointers all year,” Edison said. “He takes some in practice. He was left alone on the first one. I wasn’t expecting the second one. I was standing there, thinking, ‘I don’t know about that one, Justin,’ but it went in. Those are the kinds of plays you need to beat quality teams. Our guys have a lot of confidence right now.”
Off the bench, freshman guard Blake Berger contributed an acrobatic layup in transition off a Baker steal and assist and drew Yeo’s fourth foul in the process to give the Lancers a 42-35 edge at the 4:13 mark of the fourth quarter. Reserve post Jeff Haygood added five boards, including a third-chance rebound basket and foul for a 38-29 LaVille lead with 6:51 to go.
For Triton, Shepherd scored a game-leading 17 points, while Yeo pulled down 11 rebounds to go along with his 14 points. Senior point guard Zak Shively handed out six assists, cut Triton’s deficit to four with a 3-pointer at the 3:02 mark of the fourth quarter, and added a rebound bucket for a 48-46 game with 12.7 seconds left.
The Trojans, in addition to the final flurry, missed two chances to tie from the line in the final minute. Shively hit Seth Glingle for a basket and foul and a 45-44 score with 47 seconds left in the game, but Glingle missed the potential game-tying free toss. For the night, Triton shot just 3 of 10 from the foul line.
“We got off to a lackluster start,” Groves said. “We need to play with a little more sense of urgency. We battled back, but it was too little too late. LaVille has extremely good coaches, and lately on tape they’ve looked really good.
“(Free throws) have been a struggle,” he added. “We’ve told them some game it’s going to bite you in the butt, and it did. If we’re just 6 of 10 we win the game. Hopefully this gets their attention. What happens now depends upon how we respond. Two years ago we lost this game and spiraled out of control. We’ll be looking to our seniors and Clay to see how they lead from here.”
Both teams return to NSC action Thursday. LaVille hosts New Prairie, while Triton travels to Bremen.
• LaVILLE 48,
Score by quarters
LaVille: 12 22 36 48
Triton: 4 15 29 46
LaVILLE (48): Blake Berger 2 0-1 4, Jordyn Williams 4 3-4 13, Jason Duerring 0 0-0 0, Landon Manuel 0 0-0 0, Jeff Haygood 1 0-1 2, Andrew Hostetler 3 0-1 9, Nick Amor 3 2-4 8, Justin Baker 3 4-6 12. TOTALS: 16 9-17 48.
TRITON (46): Clay Yeo 6 2-4 14, Zak Shively 2 0-0 5, Bryson Mosier 0 0-0 0, Tanner Shepherd 7 1-2 17, Seth Glingle 3 0-4 6, Cody Shively 2 0-0 4, Drew Mosson 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 20 3-10 46.
3-point goals: LaVille 7 (Hostetler 3, Williams 2, Baker 2), Triton 3 (Shepherd 2, Z. Shively); Turnovers: LaVille 8, Triton 10; Rebounds: LaVille 24 (Haygood, Amor, Baker 5), Triton 28 (Yeo 11); Assists: LaVille 12 (Baker 4), Triton 12 (Z. Shively 6); Steals: LaVille 3 (Baker 2), Triton 3; Fouls (fouled out): LaVille 15 (none), Triton 20 (none).
Records: LaVille 10-5 (4-1 NSC), Triton 13-4 (4-1 NSC).