• Val T.

Triton’s man-to-man stifles Argos, leads to sectional title

Morris scores 16 for Dragons in loss


BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

BOURBON — Argos boys basketball coach Jason Breden said his team was well prepared for Triton’s 1-3-1 zone in the Class 1A, Sectional 50 final Saturday.

As it turned out, they saw about one possession of it.

JJ Morris

Instead, Triton relied on a man-to-man defense to beat the Dragons 45-39 at the Trojan Trench to win their second straight sectional title.

Tyson Yates led Triton with 13 points, Cole Shively had 11, and Ashton Oviedo had 10.

Triton improved to 18-7 and will return home to play Fremont in a regional semifinal at approximately noon this Saturday. No. 5 North White will play No. 1 Gary 21st Century in the first semifinal at 10 a.m., and the winners return at 8 p.m. for the regional final.

J.J. Morris scored 16 points for Argos, who finished 17-6. The Dragons had averaged 63.5 points per game during their four-game winning streak leading into this game. Only four times this season had Argos scored fewer than 39 points in a game prior to Saturday.

Triton’s man-to-man featured Oviedo guarding Richard in a matchup of point guards, Yates guarding Jake Stults and 6-2 Cole Shively guarding the 6-6 Morris.

Morris made five of nine field goal attempts shooting over the top of the shorter Shively, but the rest of the team shot 31 percent from the field.

Breden said that Triton fought through screens well, but he also felt his team’s spacing and cutting could have been better.

Triton coach Jason Groves praised each of his individual defenders but also praised the team’s defense in rotating and providing help.

“The first time they 1-3-1’d us, we ran a play and had J.J. Morris wide open, but again didn’t get him the ball… but I think Groves saw that we were prepared for the 1-3-1, so I just think he caught a break. … It’s man-to-man. He just did a great job. They had help from the baseline. I don’t think mentally we did a good enough job reading it and working the ball. … In our offense, when our guy fails to reverse the ball because the man stays down and we drive, just kick it to him. It’s a wide open 3, and we just didn’t do that enough unfortunately,” Breden said.

Triton led by as many as eight points in the fourth quarter. Argos got within 40-36 on a Michael Richard leaner in the lane, but Oviedo hit two free throws with 37.3 seconds left.

With 28.8 seconds left, Triton’s Cole McKinney missed the front end of a one-and-one from the line but somehow beat four Argos players to the rebound even though no other Triton players were positioned in the lane.

“The one thing I’ll say is maybe when we shot ourselves truly in the foot is when we were down six, and the one-and-one free throw, and the guys just assumed he would make it and didn’t rebound, that’s probably when we shot ourselves in the foot because they get the ball back, and they work another 20 seconds off the clock, and we’re back in the same scenario,” Breden said.

Caden Graham made two free throws with 21.9 seconds left to extend the lead to 44-36.

Jake Stults nailed a 3-pointer for Argos with 5.9 seconds left, but Oviedo split a pair of free throws with 4.8 seconds left to complete the scoring.

This was the fourth straight year Argos and Triton had met in the sectional final. Argos won in 2019 and 2020 at Triton before Triton beat Argos last year when the sectional was held at Culver.

Triton coach Jason Groves, who won his ninth sectional in 17 years as coach, said he didn’t plan on sticking with the man-to-man for as long as he did.

He emphasized to his defenders to get a hand in Richard and Stults’ faces on the catch, and Argos made just 2 of 15 3-point tries.

“I think maybe we went 1-3-1 like a possession,” Groves said. “I thought we were doing really well in man-to-man and executing what we wanted done, so we just stayed in it. The game plan going in was to mix it up a little bit, and then I’m like, ‘Well, maybe we’ll stick in it.’ … They executed the game plan really well.”

The first half had the feel of a classic sectional nailbiter. It was a one-possession game the entire first half with a Yates 3-pointer and a Yates driving layup giving Triton a 20-17 halftime lead.

The lead got as big as five when Yates stole an Argos inbounds pass underneath their own basket and raced to the other end for a layup and five-point lead.

But Morris hit a 15-footer, and Stults scored on a reverse layup to cut the lead back to one.

A Bruce Johnson 3-pointer and a Shively free throw would later get the lead to five before Morris muscled home a hook in the paint as he was fouled and finished the 3-point play to make it 28-26.

But Yates found Oviedo on a back door cut and later hit a left baseline fade from 12 feet to make it 32-26.

Dylan Kindig putting back his own miss – Argos had a 29-18 rebounding advantage for the game – got Argos back within 32-28 going into the fourth quarter.

Teddy Redinger hit a short floater in the lane to keep Argos within 34-30 with 5:46 left, but Shively’s transition layup after a turnover and two free throws got the lead to eight for the first time.

Another Kindig putback of his own miss and two Morris free throws with 2:47 left cut the lead to 38-34, but McKinney answered with a driving layup for Triton.

The game was the final prep game for Richard, Stults, Redinger and Kindig. Argos went 73-26 with two sectional titles during their high school careers.

It also marked the end of Breden’s first season as a high school coach. Breden said the seniors meant a lot to him. Each played a key role. Now it’s up to the juniors in the program to get in the gym and to get to work on replacing them.

“It still hurts the same, to be honest, after a game like this,” Breden said when asked to compare his experiences as a player, assistant coach and head coach. “I guess as a head coach, you could say the pressure’s on a little bit more, you know. Jumping around, I said prior to this game if we win, I’m the smartest guy in the world; if we lose, I’m the dumbest guy. As the head coach, you do shoulder that weight.

“As an assistant, I never thought that. But I take responsibility. I’m the head coach, and at the end of the day, we just weren’t quite as there.”

Triton 45, Argos 39

ARGOS (39) (17-6)

Michael Richard 1 3-6 5, Jake Stults 3 0-0 7, J.J. Morris 5 6-7 16, Teddy Redinger 2 0-0 5, Dylan Kindig 3 0-0 6, Sean Richard 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 14 9-13 39

TRITON (45) (18-7)

Cole McKinney 2 0-1 4, Ashton Oviedo 2 6-7 10, Tyson Yates 5 2-4 13, Cole Shively 4 3-6 11, Bruce Johnson 1 2-2 5, Chandler Westafer 0 0-0 0, Caden Graham 0 2-2 2, Connor Large 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 14 15-22 45

Three-point field goals:

Argos 2 (Stults, Redinger),

Triton 2 (Yates, Johnson)

Total fouls: Argos 17, Triton 13

Fouled out: Redinger (ARG), 4:33, fourth

Turnovers: Argos 13, Triton 8

Score by quarters

Argos 8 9 11 11 – 39

Triton 7 13 12 13 – 45


Watch full game here:

https://www.ihsaatv.org/argosdragons/?B=369834

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