WHERE ARE THEY NOW
Triton shuts down Central Catholic in Class A semistate championship
March 20, 2013Lafayette Central Catholic High School
Over the past six weeks, Central Catholic’s resurgent boys basketball team found a way to win in every situation.
Yet that run ended with an all-too-familiar sight for Knights supporters: Triton cutting down the nets at Crawley Center.
A woeful shooting performance struck Central Catholic at the worst time, and Clay Yeo’s all-around performance led Triton to a 40-32 victory Saturday night. The Trojans won their fourth semistate championship at Crawley Center and will play Borden in the state championship game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
“It’s just a sad day, that we know if we knock down shots, it’s a different ballgame and we possibly win,” CC senior guard Timmy Mills said. “We gave it everything, tried to play a heck of a game, and it just wasn’t our day. That’s all you can say.”
Triton improved to 3-0 against Central Catholic in Lafayette Jeff Semistate games, including victories in 2008 (52-51) and 2009 (50-47). The Knights, who had won 10 straight, were trying to return to the state championship for the first time since 2003.
Yeo, a Valparaiso recruit, collected 16 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks, and helped the Trojans (20-5) hold Central Catholic to a season-low scoring total.
“Usually, holding a team to 40 points, you come away with a win,” said senior guard Jake Churchill, whose 12 points led CC. “Everyone on our team is capable of making shots. It was just one of those days where we played good defense but didn’t do so well on the other side.”
Central Catholic held Yeo more than 10 points below his season average of 26.7. With Mills drawing the primary assignment and Hayes Cronk, Andrew Hubertz and others helping, the 6-foot-6 wing attempted no field goals in the first five minutes and just 10 overall.
Triton’s 40 points were also a season low. Yet Central Catholic’s defensive success could not overcome a miserable 11-for-46 performance (23.9 percent) from the field.
Knights senior guard Cowan Olinger opened the game with a 3-pointer, and Triton turned the ball over on four of its first six possessions. But Central Catholic made only one field goal over a 12-minute stretch of the first half as Triton built a 20-13 lead.
“They don’t give you any open looks, and when we finally got a few, we just didn’t make them,” CC coach Dave Barrett said. “If we had made a few early and got some momentum going, it might have been a different game, but we just didn’t. Every time we cut it down a little, we just couldn’t get any breaks, couldn’t knock down any shots, even couldn’t get the layups to go.”
The shooting woes also thwarted Central Catholic’s preference to force Triton to play at a quicker tempo. The Knights couldn’t set up a press after missed baskets, and Triton’s own 15-for-28 shooting performance (53.6 percent) allowed for few fast breaks.
“Our game is to push and go and go, and it slowed us down,” Olinger said. “From the beginning of the week on, we knew tempo was going to be big in this game, and if we got out and ran we’d be on the winning side at the end of the day. But they controlled it most of the day.”
Baskets by Mitch Witteveen and Mills in the final minute helped Central Catholic cut the Triton lead to 20-17 at halftime. But the Trojans grabbed the momentum back by feeding Seth Glingle on two backdoor lobs to open the second half, pushing the lead back to seven.
Central Catholic pulled as close as five points in the fourth quarter, after Churchill’s 3-pointer with 1:15 left. The Knights, a 34.5 percent 3-point shooting team coming in, hit 4 of 20 from long range on Saturday.
The Knights also credited Triton defenders who stayed in the face of Central Catholic’s shooters and collapsed into the lane to prevent drives.
“They’re really fast and good on penetration,” said Triton’s Cody Shively, who scored eight points, including his first 3 of the season. “We had to contain them and contest their 3s.”
After a 45-39 home loss to Harrison on Feb. 2, Central Catholic was 8-8 and struggling with offensive inconsistency. But the Knights regrouped and won 10 straight games, including a regional semifinal upset of undefeated and top-ranked Rockville and a fourth-quarter rally against Liberty Christian in the regional championship.
The sting of Saturday’s defeat only temporarily overshadowed those accomplishments.
“It speaks volumes to each and every individual on the team, and the coaches,” Olinger said. “Everyone stepped up and did their jobs to the best of their ability. ... Everyone in the community also; they stuck with us.
“To make a run like this means a lot, and it’s something we should be very proud of, even if we came up short.”