Triton senior Evan Briles rises up over a crowd of Lakeland Christian defenders for a shot during Triton’s 57-51 win over the Cougars in Winona Lake Tuesday.
Triton senior Evan Briles rises up over a crowd of Lakeland Christian defenders for a shot during Triton’s 57-51 win over the Cougars in Winona Lake Tuesday.
It was a game of runs at Lakeland Christian High School Tuesday night as the Cougars hosted the Triton Trojans. Both teams looked to be separating at various points of the game, but it was Triton that used a big fourth quarter run to pull away for good and come out on top with a 57-51 road victory.

It’s the first loss of the season for the Cougars, who are now 3-1 this winter. The win snaps a two-game skid for Triton and has the Trojans at .500 with a 2-2 record.

Offense was on the menu for both sides early, as Triton began the game with a steal and score to begin the scoring. Not to be outdone in front of a packed home crowd, The Cougars would respond in a big way. After allowing the opening points of the night, LCA would go on an 11-2 run highlighted by the three-point shooting of senior Seth Martin. Martin would make his first three shots of the night, two from distance, to end the first quarter with eight points.

Trailing 11-4 just minutes into the game, Triton would claw its way back into the contest on the back of junior Cole Shively, who ran the Trojan offense with purpose throughout the game. Shively would get some tough shots to fall and assist on some easy shots at the rim to shrink the lead to three as the two sides headed into the second quarter.

“Cole does everything for us” Triton head coach Jason Groves said. “That’s what you expect from a player that’s been on varsity for three years. Great work from him tonight.”

The second period would feature a turnaround by the visitors. After committing five fouls in the first quarter and another in the opening seconds of the second, the Triton defense would stiffen considerably. The Trojans would rally to take the lead at 16-15, their first lead since 2-0. The defense would remain stout as Triton would continue to score. The threes that fueled the Lakeland Christian run that began the game were no longer falling, yet the team continued to settle for the long distance shots with the paint locked down.

“Defense was huge for us tonight. I told the guys they were going to win this game with defense,” Groves said. “I was a little concerned with how well they could shoot the ball but we switched it up and did a tremendous job after that initial run.”  

Providing a big spark for Triton in the quarter was junior Anthony Schuh, who came in and quickly scored six points to go with four rebounds off of the bench. With Schuh patrolling the paint and quick defenders locking down the perimeter, the Trojan lead ballooned to eight. The Cougars would not go away, as Alex Cook contributed four points in the final two minutes of the quarter. Cook would finish his night with 13 points. Now leading by one, the visitors would have the last laugh of the first half when Shively would score on an alley-oop play with seconds left to cap off a 12-point first half.

“This was an all-around team victory. We had a ton of guys step up for us,” Groves said.

Lakeland Christian would begin the second half in a similar fashion to the way the team began the first. The Cougars would retake the lead with a 7-2 run. After being held scoreless in the second quarter, Martin would remind the Triton defenders of his presence with a big second half, finishing with a game-high 21 points. After a Cook three put LCA up one, Triton responded once again. The Trojans would use an 8-0 run to retake the lead and find some separation once again. Schuh continued his good night and got into double-digit scoring with 10. Triton center Evan Briles would snag an offensive rebound and convert a huge and-one opportunity. With both teams fighting and clawing on each possession, the visitors would take a three-point lead into the final quarter.

Another 8-0 run would put Triton up by 10 with four and half minutes remaining in the game. Helping the cause was junior Jacob Pitney, who had a huge second half to end the night with 13 points. Pitney hit two clutch threes in the final period. Trailing by eight with a minute remaining, the Cougars would make things interesting. Sophomore Micah Martin, who was scoreless up to that point, would knock down two huge threes to shrink the lead to four with fifteen seconds remaining. The younger Martin grabbed 10 rebounds to go with his six points.

Four points would be as close as LCA would get the remainder of the way. Shively would knock down two free throws on the other end to finish with an even 20 points and grab a steal on the other end to ice the game.

“We missed seven free throws late in the game so some improvement is needed there,” Groves said. “But we took care of the ball at the end and gutted out a win.”

Both teams play their next game Friday night, with Triton traveling to Pioneer and Lakeland Christian hosting Bluffton.