Senior staff writer
Top-10 ranked Center Grove survived upset-minded rival Greenwood in a double-overtime thriller Friday in the Johnson County tourney at Edinburgh. The Woodmen battled CG and Indiana University recruit 6-9 Trayce Jackson-Davis to a draw until falling in the semifinal round, 57-52.
The match-up was reminiscent of last year’s tense sectional opener that CG barely won, 48-45, but far from the Trojans regularseason win, 60-44, last month. The Trojans are 4-1 in games with a margin of seven points or less, pleasing CG coach Zach Hahn who has seen his team rise in close games. This time, CG’s Justin DeGraaf scored three points and Spencer Piercefield hit four free throws in the second OT.
Second-year Greenwood coach Joe Bradburn praised his team’s energy, tempo and game control. The Woodmen led 17-8 at the first stop and 29-22 at halftime. CG came back with a 12-2 run for a 40-38 lead. Greenwood’s Gavin Dowling, a 6-5 force in the lane, hit a regulation-tying free throw and force the first overtime.
Eventually, history prevailed for the Trojans who defeated Greenwood for the 20th consecutive game and 64th time in their last 82 meetings. CG was led by DeGraaf (18 points), Jackson-Davis (16 points) and Piercefield (15 points) led the Trojans. After an early-season four game skid, Greenwood (4-7) is poised for improvement.
“They are starting to listen,” Bradburn said. “And they are getting off to good starts early and being aggressive on both ends.”
The Trojans claimed its 20th county championship Monday by defeating Franklin. Earlier in the tourney, Greenwood was led by junior Bryce Hoffman, who scored 13 points in the opening round against Greenwood Christian, and a game-high 21 points against Center Grove. Hoffman, freshman Brock Kincaid and senior T.J. Price provide outside firepower.
However, Greenwood’s inside game has improved with Dowling, who scored a career-high 25 points against GCA, and depth from 6-4 senior transfer Matthew Allen and 6-3 sophomore Rasheed Elemikan, who started the season on the JV team. Dowling scored all 10 of Greenwood’s third-quarter points in its 64-52 win against GCA at Franklin.
“The credit for my improvement goes to my coaches,” Dowling said after the GCA game. “They like to get the ball to me in the paint, but it’s an inside-outside look. I can take the easy lay-up, but I like to kick it out to our shooters.”
GCA coach Jonny Marlin said the Cougars did not attack Greenwood’s sticky zone defense as planned and trailed at halftime, 29-19. Junior Champ McCorkle scored 22 points. Senior Quentin Steele had 13 points with three 3’s.
“Our effort was good, but they killed us down low,” Marlin said. “When the ball went into the post, it seemed like it was a bucket every time.”
In the Marion County tourney, Southport (8-5) defeated Lutheran (45-34) and Franklin Central (41-30) but was out-manned by No. 3 Lawrence Central, 66-31 in the semifinal nightcap Friday at Southport Fieldhouse. The dominating Bears jumped to an 11-0 lead, never looked back, and ended Southport’s string of six straight wins. Taller LC scored seven times off eight offensive rebounds in building a 29-12 halftime lead.
“We talked about taking care of the ball, holding them to one shot at a time, and forcing them to shoot long 2’s; we didn’t do two of those,” first-year coach Eric Brand said. “We’ll put this one behind use and move on.”
After losing its first 11 games, Franklin Central won its first game at Perry Meridian, 44-37 in the first round. The Flashes were led by sophomores Javon Small, 18 points, and Sam Mettert, 10 points, and senior Alan Cox, 10 points. Roncalli fell to North Central, 68-63, also in the first round.