Senior staff writer
Center Grove coach Zach Hahn refers to 6-4 senior forward Joey Klaasen as the glue that holds the Trojans’ basketball team together.
Klaasen, one of four seniors on the squad, lived up to that label Friday night as Center Grove used a stingy defense and an explosive offense to defeat host Southport 70-37. The all-around standout quietly scored 20 points and snared eight rebounds to add to a one-two punch with 6-9 junior Trayce Jackson-Davis with 19 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocked shots.
“He (Klaasen) does everything, all the little things – he’s the glue who holds us together,” Hahn said after the Trojans won their third game of the season. “He really helps us with his experience and overall play.”
With Southport leading, Klaasen launched a 24-0 run with a basket.
Meanwhile, the Trojans’ defense held the Cardinals scoreless until sophomore guard Brevin Jefferson hit a 3-pointer in the third quarter. Ten Trojans scored against the winless Cardinals.
“I’m the guy who is supposed to set screens and always blocks out for the rebound,” Klaasen said. “We always crash the boards, but now when I get the rebound I’m taking it in transition, so the guards are up court. We get to run the court better and we’re always looking for the good shot.
Klassen’s classmates include starting guard Nate McLain, 6-7 shooter Noah Gillard and 6-5 forward Cameron Fresher. Klassen pointed out that they are the first players to be with Hahn since he was hired to replace Cliff Hawkins four years ago.
“We have the experience to read the floor and make sure everybody’s doing the right thing,” Klaasen said. “We make sure we have high energy and are ready to go.”
With two junior and three sophomore starters, Southport led twice and tied the game once in the first 10 minutes but fell behind by 10 points at the half.
“We gave up a layup, had the ball taken; you foul; and they hit two free throws at the buzzer,” Southport coach Kyle Simpson said. “They threw a haymaker; we took it on the chin, took a step back and didn’t fight back.”
Center Grove, 4-0 and No. 7 in the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association poll, owned the boards 33-15 and hit 24-of-50 shots (48 percent) while Southport was a cold 13 of 40 (32.5 percent).
Saturday, Jackson-Davis scored a career-high 35 points and McLain added 20 points as the Trojans defeated host Bloomington North 77-68. Southport (0-3) fell to Ben Davis 66-41.
Roncalli (3-0) remained unbeaten by defeating Covenant Christian 90-47 with Kellen Schreiber leading with 19 points; Beech Grove (2-0) won its first league game at home against Speedway 62-45; Greenwood downed visiting Martinsville 62-54 for new coach Joe Bradburn’s first win and the Woodmen’s first opening win since 2008; and Manual (3-1) stayed unbeaten at home, defeating Tindley 67-58 behind Jalen Johnson’s 34 points.
TipOff Classic Saturday
The annual 12-team Forum TipOff Classic tips off Saturday at noon at Southport Fieldhouse with the Cardinals facing No. 17 Castle in the opener.
The showcase features eight of the state’s top 20-teams. More games – 1:40 p.m., No. 19 Culver Academy vs. No. 5 Lawrence North; 3:20 p.m., No. 16 Hamilton Southeastern vs. Center Grove; 5 p.m., No. 9 McCutcheon vs. Tindley; 6:40 p.m., Pickering (Ohio) North vs. No. 4 South Bend Riley; 8:30 p.m., No. 1 New Albany, led by Romeo Langford, against No. 9 Fort Wayne North.