BOURBON — Triton lost a basketball game by 26 points Friday night — its most lopsided defeat since February 2019 — “and honestly, I don’t think we played terrible,” coach Jason Groves said afterwards.

The culprit was the Class 3A No. 8-ranked Panthers who led from 4-2 onward in storming to a 69-43 victory over the host Trojans.

“They’re really one of the better teams I’ve seen in a long while,” Groves said. “Just athletically, skill-wise, giving up individuality for the team, they are really good.”

Outside, NorthWood (3-0) converted 11-of-21 on 3-pointers for 52%.

Inside, the Panthers powered to a 34-18 advantage on the glass, helping them to a 10-6 edge in second-chance points.

Cade Brenner and Ian Raasch, a pair of juniors, led the way for NorthWood. Brenner scored 16 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished three assists and blocked two shots, while Raasch tallied 15 points, hauled in 13 boards and matched Brenner in both assists and blocks.

Senior Chaz Yoder and sophomore Ethan Wolfe added nine points apiece, with each hitting 3-of-4 from distance.

“We have a number of players that are more skilled this year than last year,” said Panther coach Aaron Wolfe, who graduated just one starter from last winter’s 16-9 club that won seven straight down the stretch before losing 47-46 to eventual state runner-up Leo in a regional final.

“We dribble, pass and shoot better, and they have another year of physical maturity,” Wolfe said. “A lot of these young men put in a tremendous amount of time in the summer to improve their games, and it’s fun to see them reap the benefits of their hard work.”

NorthWood sent 1A No. 9 Triton (2-1) to its first blemish after the Trojans opened with wins by 48 points at Oregon-Davis and by 14 over Plymouth.

“Our kids battled, but they wore us down,” Groves said. “Again, I don’t think we played terrible. We kept the turnovers down (at nine for the game to the Panthers’ 11), but they’re just a really good team.”

Senior Tyson Yates led Triton with 16 points, including 7-of-10 shooting from the field with a 3-pointer, and two steals. Sophomore Cole Shively added 14 points and a team-high three assists.

“Tyson and Cole both did a nice job,” Grove said. “I thought they did a good job adjusting to (NorthWood’s) pressure. We didn’t dribble right away, kind of let the back cuts happen and then got penetration to the basket.”

The Panthers, though, put the clamps on the Trojans’ usual scoring ace, Ashton Oviedo. He finished with just five points, going 1-of-6 from the field to accompany 3-of-4 at the line.

“They face-guarded him with bigger, stronger guys, and he couldn’t get open,” Groves said, referring to NorthWood senior Cooper Wiens and NiTareon Tuggle taking turns. “That was part of the problem, but we need to be a little more patient as a team getting him off screens, and he has to be a little more patient waiting for and reading the screen, but they did a great job defensively on him.”

Oviedo’s five points put him 988 for his career. He went into the night averaging 17.0 and he averaged 16.7 last season.

He’ll get his next chance to become the fifth 1,000-point scorer in the 59-year history of Triton basketball when the Trojans host Lakeland Christian on Tuesday.

The Panthers also won Friday’s junior varsity contest, 45-32. Evan Briles scored 14 points and Dante Workman 12 for Triton. NorthWood’s JV is 3-0, while the younger Trojans dropped to 2-1.