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  • Val T.

Rodgers scores 21, Guasp adds 12, but Culver falls to Triton in sectional opener

Riffle hits six treys for Trojans, Witt-Hoyo adds 15


Sports Editor, RTC

Jack Rodgers Adria Guasp

BOURBON — Triton’s Gage Riffle was a flamethrower, according to Culver boys basketball coach Kyle Evans, and because of it, the Cavaliers were left to sweep up the ashes.

Riffle hit six first-half 3-pointers and scored 21 points to lead three players in double figures as Triton hung on to beat Culver 61-54 in a Class 1A, Sectional 50 quarterfinal at the Trojan Trench.

Tanner Witt-Hoyo added 15 points, and Dante’ Workman added 10 for Triton, who beat Culver for the second time in a week and improved to 17-6. Triton, who went 7-0 in the Hoosier North, also beat Culver 41-36 in their regular season meeting on Feb. 21.

Landon Patrick added nine, including five in the fourth quarter, for the Trojans.

Jack Rodgers led Culver with 21 points, including seven in the fourth quarter. Adria Guasp hit four 3-pointers and added 12. David Hite, who was limited by a hip injury in recent weeks, added nine.

Culver finished 9-14. They have not won a sectional title since 2014. Their sectional semifinal win over Triton that year remains the only time they have beaten Triton in a postseason game.

Triton led by as many as 14 in the second half before Culver got within 51-45 when Rodgers found Hite in transition for a layup.

But Triton answered with a 7-0 run, including a highlight-film worthy behind-the-back pass from Riffle hitting Patrick in stride for a layup as the lead got back to 58-45.

Culver inched closer as Rodgers hit two free throws and then went in for an uncontested layup after stealing an inbounds pass with 1:13 left. When Logan Caudill scored on a putback, Evans called his final timeout with 32.2 seconds left and Culver down 59-51.

Workman hit two more free throws with 22.5 seconds left – it was Rodgers’ fifth foul – before Guasp completed the scoring with a 3 from the volleyball line with two seconds left.

Culver seemingly matched Riffle shot for shot in the first half and took a 16-15 lead with 36 seconds to go in the quarter on two Ethan Binion free throws and a Rodgers transition layup with 36 seconds.

Caden Large’s 3-point play gave Triton an 18-16 lead with 17 seconds left in the quarter, and Triton stayed ahead for good.

Riffle then started throwing flames in the second quarter. Workman hit him in the left corner for a 3, but Brady Kindernay knocked down a 3. Hite scored in transition and was fouled but missed the free throw.

Then Riffle hit a 3 off the dribble, and then he hit another bomb from the right corner on an inbounds play to make it 29-21.

“It killed us,” Evans said of Riffle’s shooting. “But credit to him. We knew he was that type of player. Usually, it takes a guy kind of like that to step up and have a huge game and win a close one like this. I’m just really thrilled that we were able to still have a chance despite him just absolutely shooting lights out. He was absolutely throwing flames out there. I credit our guys for not allowing that to bury them.”

Guasp knocked down a 3, but Witt-Hoyo grabbed a lucky deflection for a layup, and Riffle and Large got layups in transition to make it 35-24.

A Rodgers runner in the lane and a Guasp 3 got Culver within 37-29, but Patrick found Witt-Hoyo for a layup just before the halftime buzzer to get the lead back to double digits.

Triton played mostly man-to-man with brief moments of 1-3-1 zone. When they were in a man, Workman, Riffle, Swanson and Patrick all saw time guarding Rodgers.

“It wasn’t much different than what we’ve seen all year – two or three guys dropping to him, fouling the snot out of him every time he drives, but when you’re built like Jameer Nelson, you’re going to get that kind of physicality if not get the luxury of he calls,” Evans said, comparing Rodgers to the 2004 collegiate National Player of the Year from St. Joseph’s who went on to play 14 years in the NBA. “I think the first time we played them, we had an officiating crew that gave us those fouls and got them in foul trouble. I think they might have been trying to avoid that tonight. I thought the officials did a good job tonight, and it was a typical sectional game in that it was physical. So they were physical with Jack, and we had to find ways around that.”

Triton coach Jason Groves complimented Rodgers, who also 16 against the Trojans last week.

“He’s a good basketball player,” Groves said. “He’s going to get his points. That’s about his average, around 21 or 22 a game. He’s a really good player. He creates for everybody else. You’ve got to keep in front of him. That was our game plan. We mixed it up defensively quite a bit.”

Culver’s scoring average jumped from 45 last year to 56 this year. That was their highest scoring average since the 2014 sectional title team averaged 58.8. 

But they also allowed 58 ppg this year after allowing 41 last year, and their win total dropped from 12 to nine.

They say goodbye to Rodgers, a senior who moved in from Culver Academy; Guasp, a foreign exchange student from Mallorca; and Kindernay, who had an injury-marred senior season.

“We replaced everybody,” Evans said. “Last year’s group was a lot of fun to coach in a different way. This year, we were able to experiment a little bit more and with some of the youth and then with Jack coming in. We did some things differently offensively to where we scored some more points this year.

“What was fun about this group is they scored right away early in the season, and they struggled on the defensive end. And then as the year went on, they just kept getting better and better and better on the defensive end to where all of a sudden, it became a lot more fun in a different way.”

Triton 61, Culver 54

TRITON (61) (17-6)

Landon Patrick 3 3-4 9, Dante’ Workman 3 4-4 10, Julian Swanson 0 1-2 1, Gage Riffle 7 1-2 21, Tanner Witt-Hoyo 6 3-4 15, Caden Large 2 1-1 5, Jacob Pitney 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 21 13-17 61

CULVER (54) (9-14)

David Hite 4 0-1 9, Jack Rodgers 8 4-4 21, Jonas McCuen 1 0-0 3, Adrian Guasp 4 0-0 12, Logan Caudill 1 0-0 2, Brady Kindernay 1 0-0 3, Caleb McCuen 0 0-0 0, Ethan Binion 1 2-2 4

TEAM: 20 6-7 54

Three-point field goals:

Triton 6 (Riffle 6),

Culver 8 (Guasp 4, Rodgers, Hite, J. McCuen, Kindernay)

Total fouls: Triton 11, Culver 20

Fouled out: Rodgers (CUL), :22.5, fourth

Turnovers: Triton 14, Culver 15

Score by quarters

Triton 18 21 8 14 61

Culver 16 13 11 14 54

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