Senior staff writer
When Greenwood visited Center Grove Friday, the Woodmen sought their first win against a 4A foe this season, while the Trojans wanted to extend their win streak to 15 against their rival.
Center Grove’s boys’ basketball team prevailed 58-52 by holding off Greenwood in the fourth quarter after the Woodmen cut the lead to two points three times. The last time Greenwood defeated Center Grove was Feb. 8, 2003.
Third-year Center Grove coach Zach Hahn is 2-1 against Johnson County teams this season; Bruce Hensley’s Woodmen are 0-4 against 4A teams.
“After playing Whiteland, Franklin and Greenwood, there aren’t many teams in the stat that are tougher, more physical and dive on the floor, and that presents a whole new challenge,” Hahn said. “Everybody talks about the MIC (Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference), but there’s no letdown in our schedule.
“In the MIC some of the kids are ultra-talented and are more athletic at times. Every team is out there trying to beat us every night. We have to be sharp (because) there’s no room for error against any team we play.”
The Trojans, winners of only one MIC game the last two seasons, face visiting league foe Carmel at 7:30 p.m. Friday, while Whiteland travels to Greenwood in a Mid-State encounter.
Center Grove enjoyed a 33-24 halftime lead, but the Woodmen used an 11-2 run in the second half to cut the lead to 40-37.
“Give Greenwood credit; they attacked, attacked and attacked,” Hahn said. “I’m just glad we found a way to win.”
Greenwood closed to 51-49 on senior Adam Rapp’s driving layup with three minutes left.
About 85 seconds later, Center Grove’s Travis Roehling drove, scored and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but 6-8 sophomore Trayce Jackson-Davis came up with the loose ball for a put-back and a 54-49 lead.
Greenwood 6-6 junior Jeffrey Reynolds dunked his third alley-oop on Max Raker’s pass, but Trojans junior Mike McLain iced it with two free throws for a 57-51 count with 20 seconds left.
The Woodmen committed three turnovers in the last two minutes but ultimately were doomed by hitting an uncharacteristic 6-of-20 free throws (30 percent). Trojans hit 16-of-25 (64 percent).
The game may have turned at the end of the third quarter when CG sophomore guard Spencer Piercefield hit three straight free throws for a seven-point cushion (44-37), which came in handy in the fourth quarter.
With Purdue coach Matt Painter looking on, Jackson-Davis led the Trojans with 16 points and 13 rebounds; Piercefield and Joey Klaasen each chipped in 10 points.
Reynolds led Greenwood with 14 points and three blocked shots. Eric Moenkhaus scored nine points in the third quarter en route to a 13-point night. Raker and Rapp had nine and eight points, respectively.
“All county (Johnson) teams are scrappy, hard-nosed and tough,” Hahn said. “Overall we were pretty good, but we have to be more solid defensively.”
Center Grove hit 19-of-44 from the field, Greenwood 21-of-49. CG won the boards 27-22. The Trojans committed 15 turnovers, Greenwood 12.