Boys basketball coaches tend to remember their first career victory no matter how many years they’re in the business.
Zach Hahn likely will recall the specifics
Center Grove’s 58-51 overtime win Tuesday night against visiting Franklin got both the Trojans’ season and Hahn’s career off on the right foot.
Trailing by 12 points late in the third quarter, Center Grove finished strong to force an extra period before scoring the first 10 points of OT to put the game away.
“I wasn’t nervous at all. Preparation is the key,” said Hahn, 26, the former Butler University guard who more recently served as an assistant coach at Ben Davis. “We had to make some adjustments during the game, but it was a hard-fought win and we’re proud.”
Senior swingman Michael Benkert scored nine of his team-high 21 points over the fourth stanza and overtime for the Trojans, while 5-foot-10 senior guard Anderson McCoy was the only other producer of double-figures
Forward Sam Hendershott tallied half of his eight points in the extra session for Center Grove.
Junior guard Cameron Smith made his Franklin debut a splendid one, erupting for a game-high 27 points having previously played his first two varsity seasons at Indian Creek. Junior Cameron Rigley, a 5-10 guard, came off the bench to add 10 for the Grizzly Cubs.
Franklin, too, proceeded to break in a first-year head coach in former Tipton High School coach Brad Dickey.
“We got up by taking some rhythm shots. Then we took two quick ones,” said Dickey of his team’s inability to keep Center Grove at arm’s length. “But I was proud of both teams playing defense like they did. They were both in-tuned and it slowed the game down.”
Both coaches agreed Franklin’s fatigue late factored into the final result. In all, seven different Trojans players scored in Center Grove’s 23-9 scoring run to close the game after trailing 42-35 early in the fourth quarter.
“I kept telling our players to keep believing in the system,” Hahn said. “Early on we were very tentative, but when the game went from nine points to five points is when we kicked the burners on.”
The game’s turning point came with 1:09 remaining in the third when Trojans’ senior post Al Leiter snagged one of his game-leading seven rebounds for a putback followed by Trevor Harrell’s trey from the top of the key.
Benkert then scored in close with 3.1 seconds showing, and Harrell’s jumper to open the fourth period made it a 36-33 Franklin advantage.
Center Grove finally pulled even at 42-all with 4:57 remaining in regulation after Benkert stole the ball and threw down a one-handed slam dunk. The Grizzly Cubs would never reclaim the lead.
Both teams used nine players apiece in the opening period alone in search of the combinations that worked best.
The Trojans used a 10-4 scoring run over the final 5:21 of the second stanza — six coming on two 3-pointers by McCoy — to take a 21-18 lead at intermission.
Center Grove is back in action Saturday night when it travels to Franklin Central in an attempt to snap a five-game losing streak to the Flashes. The Grizzly Cubs are off until December 5 in what will be their home opener against Mid-State Conference foe Decatur Central.