Senior staff writer
Center Grove reached the championship game of the Johnson County boys basketball tourney with the same result as last year.
The Trojans fell for the second straight year to host Whiteland as the Warriors won their ninth tourney trophy 53-47. Center Grove, the 2015 champs, lost to Whiteland by two points in the 2016 tourney finale. The Warriors own four consecutive wins against the Trojans.
Center Grove dominated Greenwood 67-45 in Friday’s semifinal round but could not repeat its high-powered performance against Whiteland in the title match-up Saturday.
The Trojans led five times against Whiteland in the first half but never saw the lead in the second half.
“For as good as we looked against Greenwood, this was the polar opposite,” Trojans coach Zach Hahn said. “Some of it was Whiteland’s defense, but when you don’t take away things that the other team likes to do, it puts you in a bad position.”
The determined Warriors out-shot and out-rebounded Center Grove. Shooting 48 percent for the season, Whiteland hit a precision-like 20-of-41 shots Saturday, won the board battle 23-19 and successfully chased down most of the 50-50 battles for the basketball.
It left Hahn looking for more toughness from the Trojans.
“You have to do things tough and find a way to win,” Hahn said. “They (Whiteland) dictated us all game. They have a really good offense with a lot of motion; they know their roles and don’t take bad shots. We have to find a way to play better.”
Against Whiteland the Trojans led 8-4 but fell behind on an 11-2 run. CG led 21-18 on Travis Roehling’s drive to the basket and free throw. Gross’ 3-pointer tied it but Kas Oganowski came off the bench for a layup to end the half 23-23.
The last time Center Grove saw the lead was 25-23 on Spencer Piercefield’s shot. The Trojans cut the lead to 36-33 on Nate McLain’s two free throws but Whiteland pulled away.
Roehling led CG with 15 points with sophomore Trayce Jackson-Davis scoring nine points and grabbing 10 rebounds. McLain and Piercefield each scored eight points.
Greenwood took third place by defeating Indian Creek 61-56 in a reversal of a poor showing Friday by the Woodmen.
The Woodmen trailed only three times in the first half and later built up an 11-point lead (38-27) midway in the third quarter. Indian Creek closed to 53-52 with two minutes left in the game, but the Woodmen then hit 8-of-10 free throws.
Junior Eric Moenkhaus led the Woodmen with 22 points with help from classmate Jeffrey Reynolds, who chipped in 14 points.
Greenwood (7-6) defeated Franklin 63-51 on opening night before falling to Center Grove (7-5).
The Trojans travel Friday to Ben Davis and return home Saturday against Marion County tourney semifinalist Roncalli. Greenwood is host to Perry Meridian Wednesday and Decatur Central Friday.