Triton Central runs away with holiday title

The same four-team field as 2021 convened Thursday for the Franklin County boys basketball holiday tournament – looking to see a champion crowned ahead of a nasty winter storm making its way to town.

With the championship pushed up to mid-afternoon, the Triton Central Tigers dominated defending champ FC 73-40 to lift the trophy at center court. 

A strong first half had the Tigers leading 38-23 at the midway point. By the midpoint of the third, Triton’s advantage grew to 47-28 and a furious 11-0 run to close the period had Wildcat coach Mark Foster waving the white flag and giving the remainder of time to his younger players.

The green and white squad already led 20-7 after eight minutes, holding FC to two field goals early – a three by Quinn Gillman and deuce for Brady Morehead. TC had five scorers in the first frame, paced by eight points for sophomore Silas Blair.

Senior Brant Ertel was red hot when play continued, trying to will his Cats back into the game. He hit four 3-pointers and scored a total of 14 points in the stanza. However, Triton maintained its double-digit spread, getting a 9-point quarter from senior Isaac Morgan.

Another 3 by Ertel and bucket for senior Jace Lee weren’t enough as TC opened second-half play on a 9-5 spurt. Senior Tanner Weartz got two for FC, but Eli Sego put in six of his eight points in the quarter and Luke Faust hit a three from the side. It was 58-30 by the fourth.

Ertel had a game-high 18 points and Gillman added 10. The Tigers put four in double figures – Morgan (15), Blair (14), Sego (13) and Jace Stuckey (12). Weartz (4), Lee (3), Blake Stephenson (3) and Morehead (2) rounded out FC’s ledger.

FC (6-2) was at Muncie Central Tuesday (result not available at deadline) and visits cross-county foe Oldenburg Academy Friday.

Vs. Seton Catholic 

A key deep triple by Ertel set up out of a timeout gave FC the final lead it would need in the morning session against the Seton Catholic Cardinals from Richmond. Gillman assisted on the play that put the Cats up 49-48 with 1:47 to go. The parochial Cards wouldn’t score again as FC tacked on five more to win 54-48.

The closing 8-0 run by FC was the last in a series of second-half runs that found the Cats on a 10-point tear to go up 46-36, only to see SC answer with 12 consecutive to retake the lead. After what would be the game winner, Lee scored on a reverse lay-in. The Cardinals missed a three to tie; Gillman’s shot in transition was swatted but Grant Semler’s basket on the other end was waved off due to a charging call. With 27.8 seconds left, FC entered the bonus and knocked down 3 of 4 attempts.

A tight first half produced a 26-26 score at the break. Elijah Falcone started the new half with a corner 3 and Braiden Hogg also scored for the Wayne County crew; FC countered with a 2 by Weartz and a three for Ertel (both Morehead assists). A Lee putback and Gillman long ball (Ertel dime) made it 36-31. 

The Cards tied it up on goals by Falcone and Jason Moynihan. In a span of two minutes, though, FC shot up to a 10-point lead. Lee dished to Weartz for two and Ertel also found Weartz to make it 40-36. After a timeout, Weartz played assist man to Lee; Ertel and Lee completed the run with strong left-hand moves to the rack. SC asked for time at 46-36. The Cards got a 3-point play by 6-foot-8 Mason Harvey before the end of the third. 

Harvey hit a 3 to start the fourth and SC got into the bonus at 5:26 with Harvey knocking down two at the stripe. Baskets by Moynihan and Harvey put the Cards up briefly at 48-46. 

The first half featured seven lead changes and four ties. Lee tied things at 2 and 4 with the help of a Morehead assist, then Gillman (Eli Butt ast.) answered a 3 by Andrew Warner. Ertel’s three gave FC its first lead at 10-9, then Butt passed to Ertel for three more. Five Hogg points sent SC ahead 14-13 after one.

Lee switched the lead early in the next frame, soon taken back by a Moynihan jump shot. Ertel fed Weartz for a reverse layup and Lee again gave FC the lead at 19-18. Hogg and Ertel traded baskets. Weartz scored twice (the second off a Gillman assist) to make it 25-20. A foul shot by Ertel gave FC a 6-point edge but SC tied it in the final minute. La’Monte Owens, Harvey and Moynihan each scored two.

Ertel again led all scorers with 18. Weartz and Lee had 14 apiece, Gillman’s two treys gave him 6 and Morehead finished with 2. Guards Hogg and Falcone each scored 13 for the Cards.

Triton Central defeated Hamilton Heights 53-48 in the other semifinal.

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