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By Al Stilley
Senior staff writer
Upset-minded Center Grove and Lutheran were knocked out of the boys state basketball tournament Saturday in separate regionals.
Center Grove gave 4A No. 1-ranked New Albany fits before falling 57-52 in the opener of the Seymour Regional. Lutheran was the final Southside team ousted when the cold-shooting Saints fell to Tindley 68-52 in the Martinsville Regional championship game.
The Class A Saints were one of only three sectional champions that entered regional action with a losing record. Coach Bob Jacobs’ squad won their four sectional games by an average of five points after losing their last three regular-season games.
The Saints defeated Hauser 66-60 earlier Saturday behind senior Brandon Perry’s 25 points and junior Zach White’s 19.
“Every game we played (in the tourney) we were picked to lose,” Jacobs said. “If you would have told us two weeks ago that we would be playing in the night game for a regional championship, I would have told you there’s no way.
“Our schedule, when you’re in the midst of it, doesn’t seem to be doing you any favors,” Jacobs said. “It pays off in the 1A tourney because you’re playing schools your size. Our guys did a great job all season long.”
Against stronger and faster Tindley, Lutheran led 12-11 before the Tigers went on a 12-0 run. White ended the run on a layup and free throw. Tindley scored on six fast breaks and hit 32-of-52 shots (61.5 percent). Lutheran hit only 21-of-53 (39.6 percent).
Perry scored 25 points with White adding 16 and soph Clayton Pittman chipping in eight. The Saints (12-13) will graduate Perry, White, Tyler Johnson and Wes Pittman.
Four-time sectional champion Lutheran reached the regional championship game for the first time since 2008.
In the 4A Seymour Regional, Center Grove came back relentlessly against the Bulldogs and star player Romeo Langford, who scored a game-high 21 points. Trailing 46-35, the Trojans trimmed the lead to four points on a 7-0 run on sophomore Trayce Jackson-Davis’ four points and a 3-pointer by junior Nate McLain.
Fittingly, senior Travis Roehling, who constantly drove to the basket, scored the Trojans’ final points.
The Trojans hit only 2-of-8 free throws in the fourth quarter and were zero-for-3 in the last 30 seconds.
“This is heartbreaking for the kids,” third-year coach Zach Hahn said. “We played well enough to win even without doing some things we do well.
We played really hard and our game plan was good. We did everything we could to keep them from doing what they wanted. I’m really proud of our effort, focus and our execution.”
The Trojans led 6-2 and 8-7. A 10-0 run put them in a hole but they recovered to get within two points (22-20). Roehling’s 3-pointer tied it at 29 before the Bulldogs went on an 8-0 tear.
“This was a game of spurts, and their spurts lasted longer than ours,” Hahn said. “Our shooters got open, but we didn’t hit shots early in the second and third quarters. Down the stretch we didn’t make plays.”
Roehling, Kas Oganowski, Seth Piercefield and Parker Ferguson are seniors. Returning regional starters Jackson-Davis, Spencer Piercefield, Joey Klaasen and Nicoson are expected back with Nate McLain and 6-5 Lucas Doyle.
Roehling led CG with 18 points against New Albany with an aggressive Jackson-Davis adding 16 points and nine rebounds. Klaasen had six rebounds.
“Our seniors did a great job; they are fantastic leaders who bought in,” Hahn said. “Every year’s a new team, and I’m proud of this group and how they finished the season. We talk all the time about building a program; we don’t want to be good one year and bad the next year.”