By STEVE HERMAN
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS -- Matt Gehl finally stopped pressing and started scoring.
Gehl, scoreless in the first two quarters, missed only one shot from the field in the second half and finished with 26 points in Jac-Cen-Del's 66-55 victory over defending champion Triton for its first Indiana high school Class A basketball title on Saturday
"I started pulling up jump shots instead of trying to take it all the way to the basket," Gehl said. "I let the game come to me."
Even without a point by Gehl, the top-ranked Eagles (25-2) pulled away in the second quarter, took a 25-13 lead at the half and built the margin to as many as 20 points late in the third quarter after Gehl began hitting from the field. Triton (24-3), which missed its first 11 shots of the game and finished shooting just 30 percent from the field, never came closer than nine points in the final period.
Gehl said coach David Bradshaw told him at halftime to "just keep my head up ... and that's what I did."
Gehl, a 6-foot-2 senior who also had 11 rebounds, hit 10-of-11 shots in the second half and was named Class A tourney MVP by The Associated Press. Blake Sutton added 19 points for Jac-Cen-Del.
Triton was led by Gryffin Carpenter with 14 points and Colton Keel and Joel Meister with 12 each.
Jac-Cen-Del's Gerald Hardesty received the IHSAA Trester Award for mental attitude.
"In the first quarter, nothing went well for anybody," Sutton said. "But in the second quarter, we knew we had to step up and get the lead by halftime, and that's what we did."
Bradshaw said he wasn't concerned with the slow start by Gehl or the rest of the Eagles.
"There have been games where somebody else has been our leading scorer," he said. "They really don't care who scores the points as long as they get the job done."
Jac-Cen-Del, a school in the southeastern Indiana town of Osgood that takes its name from Jackson, Center and Delaware townships, was in the boys finals for the first time and improved on its girls team's runner-up finish in 1978.
The game was scoreless for almost the first five minutes, but unlike Triton, Jac-Cen-Del finally found its shooting touch, even though Gehl was scoreless in the first two periods.
"We ran into a pretty good team today," Triton coach Jason Groves said. "They're long, athletic, tall and contested our shots. I think that bothered us.
"Especially in the second quarter, I think we got a little frustrated and lost our focus a little offensively," he said.
There was one tie and four lead changes before the Eagles began pulling away in the second quarter. Baskets by Trevor Arnett and Sutton and a 3-pointer by Arnett started a 15-2 run for Jac-Cen-Del, pushing the lead to 21-9 with 2:25 left in the period.
Triton, which returned only one starter from its championship team last year, shot only 5-of-27 in the first half, and baskets by Shane Adams and Sutton pushed the Eagles' lead back to 12 at the break, 25-13.
Gehl, the team's scoring leader at more than 20 points a game, had the first two baskets of the third quarter. He had 15 points in that period, including the final seven for Jac-Cen-Del, then scored the Eagles' first seven of the fourth quarter.
Jac-Cen-Del's biggest lead was 44-24 on a 3-point play by Gehl. The Eagles' final 14 points were on free throws, and Triton came within 64-55 with less than a minute to go before Sutton hit two free throws with 30 seconds left to put the game out of reach.
Gehl, Sutton, Arnett, Carpenter and Keel were named to the AP All-Tourney team.
CLASS A BOX
By The Associated Press
JAC-CEN-DEL 66, TRITON 55
Montalbano 1-3 2-2 5, Meister 3-14 5-5 12, Davis 1-1 0-0 2, G.Carpenter 4-17 2-2 14, Keel 5-15 2-4 12, C.Carpenter 3-8 0-0 8, Moriarty 1-2 0-0 2, Nordman 0-0 0-0 0, Kreft 0-1 0-0 0, Garey 0-0 0-0 0, Holderman 0-0 0-0 0, Everett 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-61 11-13 55.
Sutton 4-7 9-10 19, Gehl 10-15 6-12 26, Ti.Arnett 2-7 0-0 4, Tr.Arnett 3-6 0-0 7, Hardesty 4-7 0-2 8, Wilhoit 0-0 0-0 0, Harlemart 0-0 0-0 0, Adams 1-4 0-0 2, Lunsford 0-0 0-0 0, Purdy 0-0 0-0 0, Garnett 0-0 0-0 0, Harmeyer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-46 15-24 66.
3-Point Goals--Triton 8-23 (G.Carpenter 4-14, C.Carpenter 2-3, Montalbano 1-1, Meister 1-5), Jac-Cen-Del 3-7 (Sutton 2-4, Tr.Arnett 1-1, Gehl 0-1, Adams 0-1). Fouled Out--Montalbano, Meister. Rebounds--Triton 29 (Keel 13), Jac-Cen-Del 42 (Gehl, Tr.Arnett 11). Assists--Triton 9 (Davis, Holderman 2), Jac-Cen-Del 7 (Sutton 4). Total Fouls--Triton 22, Jac-Cen-Del 14. A--na.