Triton Central controlled the action for the first 16 minutes of its first regional appearance since 2012.
Parke Heritage dominated the final 16 minutes and cruised to a 47-30 victory Saturday in the first semifinal game of the Class 2A Greenfield-Central Regional.
The Tigers opened up a 21-15 lead at halftime but failed to match the Wolves offensively in the second half, shooting just 18% from the field.
“On the defensive end for us, their shooters got loose two or three possessions in a row and that didn’t happen in the first half,” said Triton Central coach Kyle Ballard. “Throw in some offensive rebounds … and they are the best rebounding team we’ve seen all year … they create so many extra possessions for themselves.
“On the offensive end for us, we had a couple of good looks that didn’t go. We thought we were doing a good job attacking the basket and the ball didn’t go in.”
After missing all six shot attempts in the first half, Parke Heritage senior Riley Ferguson drained a corner 3-pointer just 30 seconds into the second half and the pressure seemed to lift off the Wolves.
Aiden Lindsey answered for Triton Central with a score in the lane but it would be almost five minutes later on the clock before the Tigers would score again.
Anthony Wood, also held scoreless in the first half, drove and scored to cut TC’s lead to 23-20 and Christian Johnson drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game with 4:44 left in the quarter.
Forty seconds later, Wood scored again and the TIgers would never regain the lead.
Lindsey had all seven of Triton Central’s third quarter points as the Wolves took a 31-28 lead into the fourth quarter.
“It kind of got away from us but down three points going into the fourth quarter we still thought we were in pretty good shape,” said Ballard.
Triton Central’s offensive woes continued into the fourth with a 1-for-11 performance from the field and 0-for-8 from the 3-point line.
Parke Heritage opened the lead to 37-28 near the midpoint of the quarter then spread the floor and forced the Tigers to chase the ball or commit a foul. Neither option worked out well for TC.
The Wolves put together an 11-0 run to seal the program’s first regional game victory since the consolidation of Rockville and Turkey Run to become Parke Heritage
Johnson led the Wolves with 16 points. Ferguson scored 12 – all in the second half.
Connor Davis finished with 10 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
“He is the best individual rebounder we’ve played,” said Ballard. “We knew that would be a big key. He is one of those guys where you can’t block him out. He does such a good job playing with his hands up and finding the basketball.”
Lindsey led Triton Central with 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots. Steele had 10 points – all in the first half.
Triton Central finished 13-9 and will graduate four seniors – Steele, Erick Hebauf, Caleb Anderson and Jaxson Miller.
“We hoped at the end of the year this is where we would be,” said Ballard. “I am so proud of our senior class and what they have been through the last couple of years. We will miss those guys for sure.”