Senior staff writer
Southside basketball teams had their share of thrillers last week.
Center Grove’s girls squad lost on a last-second field goal by Bedford North Lawrence in the Columbus North Regional championship game Saturday, just a few hours after upsetting previously undefeated Castle.
In boys action, Greenwood stayed alive in the Mid-State Conference title chase by bumping off visiting Plainfield 77-71 in double-overtime, and Roncalli upended Heritage Christian 50-49 in overtime to remain undefeated in the Circle City Conference.
No. 15 Center Grove went to Columbus as an underdog to No. 4 Castle and No. 11 Bedford North Lawrence. The Trojans, under first- year coach Kevin Stuckmeyer, had two pluses: strength of schedule and true grit.
Most of the grit came from senior Cassidy Hardin, who is Purdue-bound next season. She had a team-high 14 points against Castle and BNL. Hardin and classmates Amy Davis and Karinna Frankel were the only seniors this year.
The Trojans consistently held the upper hand against Castle in the opener, leading 27-18 at the half and fighting off Castle’s 17-point surge in the fourth quarter with 19 points.
Center Grove never led in the nightcap against BNL but, true to form, they never gave up. The Trojans were behind 39-29 with under seven minutes to go when they rallied. Emma Thompson’s shot over 6-1 Jorie Allen tied it at 44 with less than 10 seconds left.
CG defended to the hilt but McKenzie Messmore, who had scored only three points in the game, hit a 15-foot shot that ended the Trojans’ season. CG finished 21-7 under Stuckmeyer, who moved from an assistant on the boys varsity to the girls team.
The Trojans’ moxie mostly came from Hardin, who turned into a fierce leader this season. “My role changed because I had to speak up, making sure everyone knew where to fit in,” she said. “That way we could give ourselves the best chance to win. We wanted to see how far we could go.”
The Trojans came so close to earning their first trip to the semifinal round since 1996, when they won the state championship.