Senior staff writer
After edging 4A sectional host Greenwood Friday night, Center Grove senior Joey Klaasen used those words to explain what the Trojans had to do the next night in the championship game.
And that’s exactly how they played against Franklin; they kept the Grizzly Cubs trapped all game.
No. 13 Center Grove opened a 22-7 first-quarter lead, hitting nine of 10 shots, and never let up, winning 74-39.
The Trojans own their first back-to-back sectional titles since 1985-86 and 14th overall. Spencer Piercefield led the way with 21 points, Trayce Jackson-Davis added 12 points and eight rebounds, and Nate McLain scored 11 points.
CG’s sectional title game was somewhat anticlimactic when compared to its nail-biting 48-45 semifinal win over Greenwood, which did not play like the same team the Trojans beat by 15 points in the regular season.
“Ninety-five percent of the game, we had our game plan exactly where we wanted it,” first-year Greenwood coach Joe Bradburn said. “Down the stretch we had a couple of times we couldn’t execute to the best of our ability. Give them credit. They made a play that they had to make; that’s what a championship caliber team does.”
With CG leading 44-42, Jackson-Davis pulled down a missed free throw, passed to Piercefield, who threw to Klaasen streaking to the basket for a layup and a four-point lead with 15 seconds left.
“It wasn’t a planned play,” Klaasen said. “I just saw all their offensive players going for the rebound and I knew Spencer had the ball. So I took off. I knew I would be open.”
Greenwood’s Jeffrey Reynolds canned a quick trey but Piercefield followed with two free throws. Isaiah Drew’s 3-point attempt hit the rim and Jackson-Davis snared the rebound.
Bradburn’s strategy to halt CG came up just short. The Woodmen spread their offense with no designated post play, moving Reynolds to the corner and forcing defender Jackson-Davis from the lane.
“We know that teams are going to slow it down against us,” fourth-year Trojans coach Zach Hahn said. “They’re going to try and spread us out; get Trayce away from the rim. We did a bad job of not being in the gaps early, and we let them turn the corner. And they started making some 3s. It’s all about defense for us.
“We talked about getting consecutive stops; that’s all we’ve been focusing on at the end of the year. We had three different times when we had three or more consecutive stops. If you don’t get stops, you’re going to get buried. Our guys did that, and we got stops when we needed them.”
The Trojans returned to the court Saturday and were locked in from the start, opening up a 41-13 halftime lead. Piercefield scored 13 of his team’s 22 points in the first quarter as the Trojans connected on nine of 10 field goal tries. Ten Trojans scored during the game.
“We hang our hat on defense and getting rebounds,” Hahn said.
No. 13 Center Grove faces unranked Evansville North (13-12) in the first game of the Seymour regional at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. No. 2 New Albany (23-1) meets No. 5 Bloomington South (26-2) at 12:30 p.m. The championship game is at 8 p.m.
Southport Fieldhouse is the site of a regional Saturday with Terre Haute South (19-7) meeting Mount Vernon (15-9) at 10 a.m. and No. 6 Ben Davis (21-5) challenging No. 1 Warren Central (28-0) at noon and the title game at 8 p.m.