The Class 1A Sectional 50 champions in Bourbon, the Triton Trojans, host one of two Northern Indiana boys’ basketball regionals Saturday. Tip-off is 10 a.m. for the first game, and the Trojans (18-7) will battle the Fremont Eagles (17-8) in the second game at noon in the Trojan Trench.

The opening contest showcases two 20-plus win programs, North White (21-3) and Class 1A top-ranked Gary 21st Century (21-4). This field will potentially be much tougher than last year’s field.

North White is a smaller-sized team like the Trojans featuring three guards who combine for an average of 47 points per game, and they share the rebounding workload averaging 4 to 6 rebounds per game among each athlete. Seniors Hunter Pogue (17 points per game), Bentley Buschman (16.2ppg), and Nate Miller (15.1 ppg) range from 5’8” to 6-feet in height.

They’ll match up with Gary 21st Century, a charter school in the Steel City, who is big, physical, and capable of lighting up the scoreboard. They scored 97 points in their opening sectional round, and routinely put at least 70 points on the board.

Limited individual stats are available for the squad, but their lineup runs big, anchored by 6’10” power forward, senior Eric Price. They’ll put a trio of juniors standing 6’4” and 6’5” at the guard positions (Ashton Williamson, Quinton Floyd, and D.J. Moss), Price is the lone senior starter.

The Fremont Eagles, Triton’s noon opponent, come from the Northeast Corner Conference (NECC). A traditionally tough basketball league, the NECC schools’ enrollments range from Classes 1A to 3A. Additionally, the league was even more competitive this year. Six teams finished with more than 14 regular season wins.

The Eagles’ eight losses included six from the teams ahead of them in the NECC standings where they finished 9-5 against their league foes. There isn’t much statistical information available, but Triton head coach Jason Groves has seen film, and he is prepared for, and respectful toward, his opponent.

“(T)hey do play an impressive schedule,” Groves noted. “They are very aggressive… (t)hey can really drive the basketball, and if you take that away, they kick to their shooters or dump to their post. Defensively, they play a unique matchup zone and are very good at it. They play very hard and are well coached.”

Triton plays tough, aggressive, ball-hawking defense as well. Groves noted it’s a key to continued postseason success against Saturday’s formidable regional field.

“We need to continue to play solid individual defense and, more importantly, team defense,” Groves said. “The effort and communication always have to be there. But we need to crank up the intensity on Saturday if we want to match the talent level that will be there… we will have to play well offensively too if we want to compete this Saturday.”

There are five days of preparation leading up to Saturday, so Groves and the Trojans have to get a look at two additional opponents on the other side of the bracket without losing focus on their first hurdle, Fremont.

“As coaches we do watch the other two teams to see if there is anything unique that we need to prepare for before Saturday. We may prepare for the other teams a little bit, but our focus is definitely on Fremont.”

Triton’s lineup is athletic, and a quintet comprised of four guards and a physical sophomore power forward will fluster opposing ballhandlers. Cole Shively (10.7 ppg, 4.4 rebounds per game), the regional host’s power forward, is not only tough under the basket, but he has the speed to contribute to the transition game.

Senior Caden Graham (6’4” – 5.8 ppg, 29 blocked shots) offers length, and usually defends on the perimeter to help stop opponents attempting drives inside against Triton’s 1-3-1 half-court trap.

The Trojans are a rare breed in high school basketball these days. They boast four athletes who play meaningful minutes capable of hitting at least 46% of the field goal attempts. Tyson Yates leads the way hitting a 56% clip to accompany his team-leading 13.3 ppg, and 2.3 steals per game. Yates needs 43 more points to join teammate Ashton Oviedo (10.7 ppg, 2.3 spg) in the Trojans’ 1,000-point club. Chandler Westafer (50%), Shively (49%), and 5’8” guard Cole McKinney (46%) comprise the quartet of top field goal shooters.

Oviedo leads the attack beyond the 3-point arc with 46 treys followed by Bruce Johnson (37 3-pointers). The trey tandem combined for 59% of the team’s total hits from 3-point range.

Coach Groves shared the last words he’ll likely say to his squad when they hit the floor Saturday.

“We have a great opportunity to accomplish something very special and something that we haven’t done since 2013, but it is going to take a special effort and a special togetherness for us to accomplish it. Enjoy the moment and let’s win this thing.”