Center Grove hoped to ride a wave of momentum into the Girls Hall of Fame Classic later this week.

After winning their first eight games the Trojans have come up short in two of their past three outings — including Saturday afternoon’s Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference game at home against Pike, 74-66.

Senior guard Jessica Norris insists neither she nor her teammates are scrambling to find panic buttons to push.

There is no shame in losing at Class 4A No. 1 and two-time defending state champion Bedford North Lawrence.

Meanwhile, the Red Devils, who are ranked sixth, were only one spot behind Center Grove at seventh in

last week’s Class 4A poll.

“I don’t think we’re worried about it. We’re ready for (Friday) because we’re still playing together right now,” said the 5-foot-7 Norris, who takes the parquet floor of New Castle’s Chrysler Fieldhouse as the Trojans’ second-leading scorer

(11.6 ppg) and top producer of 3-point baskets (29).

“Losing at Bedford North Lawrence was good for us. Everyone was starting to think how good we are, but that was a wakeup call.”

Norris blames an inordinate amount of missed layups and free throws for the Trojans not being

3-0 in the current MIC standings.

Center Grove can’t afford such lapses in focus in Friday’s 11 a.m. opener against Mooresville (10-2),

a program that hasn’t faced the Trojans since its 49-44 victory on

the Trojans’ court during the

2011-12 season.

At the other end of the floor, coach Shawn Sanders believes there will be no shortage of defensive effort out of his players.

“I learned from the BNL game that defensively we’re very, very solid. BNL is a team that has been through it all. Late in the game we had to foul and they still had only 46 points,” said Sanders, alluding to his team’s 46-33 loss on Dec. 13.

“I think defensively we are a state championship (caliber) team. Offensively, we’re still trying to fine-tune some things. To beat good teams there are still things we need to do.”

The 39.1 points a game Center Grove allows puts this team on pace to be one of the program’s stingier outfits in recent years.

Offensively, junior point guard Lauren Rau’s 12.9 scoring norm leads a cluster of Trojans’ performers averaging no less than 4.7 points a game – Norris, 6-1 senior Regan Wentland (10.0), seniors Bri Gliesmann (9.9) and Ali Line (7.6), freshman Cassidy Hardin (5.0) and sophomore Allison Utterback (4.7).

“We don’t have that one person we automatically go to. But I think we’re learning who we trust to take different shots,” Sanders said.

Mooresville, which brings a four-game win streak into Chrysler Fieldhouse, is similar to Center Grove when it comes to spreading the workload on offense.

Senior Sarah Corbin, a 5-9 forward, owns team-high averages in scoring (14.7) and rebounds (8.9). Next are 5-8 junior guard Lauren McBryar (12.1 ppg) and 5-10 junior wing Morgan Matt (11.8).

“I think there will be some things Mooresville will reveal some things we don’t know about ourselves,” Sanders said. “They have good team quickness, they pressure you and they make great passes for layups. You have to contest all five of their players.”

All in a day’s work for the Trojans, whose difficult regular-season schedule is there for a reason.

If you go


At New Castle High School


11 a.m. – Center Grove (9-2) vs. Mooresville (10-2)

12:45 p.m. – Gary West (7-3) vs. Heritage Christian (11-0)

6 p.m. – Consolation game

7:45 p.m. – Championship game

Directions: Take I-70 East to Exit 123 (New Castle/Spiceland) and turn left. Take State Road 3 North 4.7 miles and turn right on Bundy Avenue to New Castle H.S. and Chrysler Fieldhouse.

Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.