Center Grove became the lone Southside boys’ basketball team to reach the IHSAA semifinals after Beech Grove and Greenwood Christian reached the Elite 8 Saturday. The Trojans, led by two-time Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Player of the Week Trayce Jackson-Davis, dominated Jasper, 65-40 in the Seymour regional opener and later thumped Bloomington South, 64-41.
Indiana University recruit Jackson-Davis scored 20 points and snared 11 rebounds in the morning game and returned to score 40 points and grab 11 rebounds in the nightcap for the Trojans first regional championship since 1972. In the Final Four, Center Grove (21-8) rides a six-game winning streak into the 4A Jasper semistate against MIC rival Ben Davis (19-7) at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The winner faces Carmel (24-1) or Penn (24-3) in the 4A state title game March 23 at 8:15 p.m. in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Trojans led Bloomington South 32-20 at the half and never looked back in the second half. Spencer Piercefield added 11 points and Justin DeGraaf scored 10 points.
CG coach Zach Hahn was able to rest the starters in the fourth quarter against Jasper after building a massive 49-24 lead. During the season, the visiting Trojans downed host Ben Davis, 56-45 Jan. 18.
Beech Grove’s journey
Down 24-14, they cut the lead to 29-26 near the end of the first quarter. Tied at 35, the Hornets pulled ahead 39-37 on a 3-point shot by John Parker, who scored 26 points. Resilient BG led 47-46 before the Tigers went on a 10-0 run in the fourth. BG closed to within four points; the last time with 17 seconds left but got no closer.
“It was a heck of a ride,” Hornets’ coach Mike Renro said. “They are a resilient bunch of kids who grew up on the fly this season.”
The Hornets led Owen Valley 29-23 after three quarters, but Gavin Hess turned it on with 11 points in the fourth quarter. “They weren’t able to get on their game because of our defense,” Renfro said. “We wanted to stay in front of them defensively and challenge every shot. We were able to score late in the game because we weren’t going to pull pack. We kept pushing and pushing.”
The Hornets closed 14-7.
Cougars reach final
“I think the hardest part (losing) is not being able to coach this same team again,” Marlin said. “That’s the worst part about losing at the end of the season with guys you really enjoy.”
Leading scorer Champ McCorkle scored 23 points in the opener but was limited to 14 points in the title game. GCA (16-11) trailed Morristown, 33-26 at the half but switched defenses and finally took a permanent lead, 52-50. The Cougars are 29-21 in two seasons under Marlin. (Note: Online Editor Nathan Pace contributed to this article.)