Local Sports

Four teams searching for momentum square off in Shelby County Boys Basketball Tournament

Triton Central opened the season with four straight wins over Shelby County-based schools with an average winning margin of 22 points.

The Tigers traveled to Greenfield-Central on Dec. 8 knowing it was the best team in Shelby County. In a matter of minutes, Triton Central’s entire season changed.

Aiden Lindsey, TC’s leading scorer (14.8 ppg), went down with a serious knee injury. The senior’s season ended in game five. Surgery is scheduled for next week.

“We’re trying to find our game again,” said Triton Central coach Kyle Ballard. “It’s hard for kids to adjust to losing a teammate to injury.”



Winning another Shelby County Tournament title could go a long way to putting the Tigers back on track. Triton Central is the defending champion as the 2022 tournament begins Friday at Waldron High School.

The host Mohawks (5-4) open the semifinal round Friday against Southwestern (3-6) at 6 p.m. Triton Central (5-6) follows against Morristown (1-8).

The Shelby County Tournament championship game will tip off at approximately 8 p.m. Saturday following the conclusion of the girls championship game and celebration.

Triton Central’s roster was already depleted when it arrived at Greenfield-Central and the Lindsey injury made things worse. The Tigers lost 57-29 and took a 61-43 loss at Greensburg two days later.

With much of its roster returning to full health, Triton Central opened its conference schedule with a 65-55 win over Cascade but four straight losses have the Tigers searching for confidence.

“We have to get back to having confidence in the things we do well,” said Ballard. “We have to trust ourselves and trust our system and everyone do their job just a little bit better.”

Lindsey and Josiah Blair were a formidable problem for opposing teams before the injury. Blair (11 ppg, 5.3 rpg) has to take on a much larger role in Lindsey’s absence.

Triton Central has better scoring depth than the other three teams in the tournament with Josh Kemper (8.8 ppg), Isaac Morgan (7.3 ppg), Caleb Miller (6.8 ppg), Alex Crouse (5.4 ppg) and Luke Faust (4.8 ppg) all contributing to the team’s scoring average of 54 ppg.

“Last year we got off to a strong start but we didn’t play well coming out of (the Christmas break),” said Ballard. “Winning the county tourney spring boarded us into the second half of the season.”

Ballard noted that despite being 5-6 the Tigers’ goals of winning the county tourney, the conference title, and repeating as sectional champs are all still viable.



Morristown will get the first chance to avenge an early season loss to Triton Central. The two teams met in the season opener which was Morristown’s first game under new head coach Collin McCartt.

In the Yellow Jackets’ first five losses, the offense averaged just 31.4 ppg. In the next four, including a 43-39 win over New Washington, the offense has improved to 42 ppg.

Nolan Laster leads Morristown in scoring at 15.3 ppg. He had a season-high 28 points Tuesday in a 53-47 loss to Union County.

Nick Stidham follows at 11 ppg which means the duo accounts for 73% of the Yellow Jackets’ offensive output.

Morristown will need players like Chase Theobald and Cade Mahin to contribute against a deeper Triton Central squad.

The last time Waldron and Southwestern met, the Mohawks prevailed in three overtimes, 61-56. Lucas Mitchell and Bryce Yarling combined for 57 points to lead the Mohawks.

For Southwestern, Jordan Jones and Aiden Hartsell combined for 43 points.

That sets the stage for a potential barnburner of a rematch. Waldron is the only team above .500 at the start of the county tournament but drew a Spartans squad ready to avenge a loss.



“It was such a memorable game and such a weird game,” said Waldron coach Beau Scott, who missed the game due to illness. Junior varsity coach Tommy Coy led the Mohawks that night at Southwestern. “We had a kid go for 37 (points). They made a ton of 3s. There were just a lot of weird things. I think both teams played super hard and played well.”

Four of the top five scorers in Shelby County are in this game. Hartsell tops a dynamic quartet at 19.7 ppg followed by Yarling (19.4 ppg), Mitchell (18 ppg) and Jones (17 ppg). Only Shelbyville’s Ollie Sandman (21.6 ppg) is averaging more points per game this season.

The two Spartans and two Mohawks combined for 100 of the 117 points scored in the first meeting. Expect more of the same Friday which means their teammates may decide the outcome.

“We haven’t shied away from outright saying you need to look to score, look to create and be a part of our offense,” said Scott.

Yarling and Mitchell have combined for 72% of the Mohawks’ offense this season. Scott believes Lucas Shaw (4.8 ppg), Bryant Becker (4.1 ppg) and Caden Sheaffer (3.9 ppg) can contribute more when needed.



Southwestern is in a similar situation with Hartsell and Jones making up 73% of its offense. Scott believes Grant Emerick is a player to watch on the Spartans’ roster.

“I like Emerick. He plays hard,” said Scott. “He is willing to do anything offensively and defensively.”

Emerick is averaging 3.7 ppg while Matthew Clements follows at 3.6 ppg and a team-high 4.6 rpg.

The Spartans enter the tournament following a 1-2 performance at the Monrovia holiday tournament which ended with a pair of losses to Tri-West and Tipton.

The Mohawks were 5-2 before losing a pair of games at the Batesville holiday tournament to the host Bulldogs and North Harrison – both 3A programs.

“We played some physical teams (at Batesville),” said Scott. “We lost both games and didn’t play particularly great but there were some positives to take away.”

Another shot at Triton Central is certainly worthwhile to Waldron but Scott will be satisfied with advancing to Saturday’s championship. The Mohawks have not won a Friday night county tourney game since 2017.

“You always want another shot but playing for the title is more important,” said Scott.

Waldron’s last county tourney title came in 2016.