A little more than five hours after dying by the 3-pointer, Center Grove’s girls basketball team found itself living by it.
The Trojans delivered a tournament-record 14 triples Friday night to overwhelm Gary West 82-63 in the consolation game of the annual girls Hall of Fame Classic at Chrysler Fieldhouse.
Guard Jessica Norris served as the primary culprit, the 5-foot-7 senior knocking down half her team’s total en route to a game- and career-high 28 points.
“She’s just got to keep her confidence up, but she always has the green light,” Center Grove coach Shawn Sanders said of Norris. “Sometimes she gets in her own head and she’ll back away, but when she gets in a groove you see how good she is.”
Three of Norris’ treys came in the first quarter and helped the Trojans race to a comfortable
Gary West closed to within seven points at the half, at 40-33, but Center Grove produced six 3-pointers in the third — three by 5-9 freshman reserve Cassidy Hardin, two from Norris and another from Allison Utterback — to basically put the game away.
This proved a drastic departure from the Friday morning semifinal in which the Trojans made only
7 of 26 tries from behind the 3-point arc in a disappointing 51-42 loss to Mooresville.
“This morning was so rough. I just feel like we weren’t playing together in the first game,” Norris said. “The second game we knew when to take the shot and when to pass it.”
Norris by now has been made plenty aware she would have had a 32-point night had she converted the two point-blank attempts she was strong with in the second half.
“Oh, my gosh. Wide open,” Norris said, laughing. “Can’t finish to save my life.”
Sanders was proud of the way his players bounced back, especially considering the loss to Mooresville had been Center Grove’s third setback in its past four games.
Though unranked, all four of Gary West’s losses this season were to undefeated programs — Class 3A No. 2 South Bend St. Joseph’s, Class 4A No. 1 Bedford North Lawrence and Class 2A Nos. 1 and 2 in Heritage Christian and Fort Wayne Canterbury, respectively.
Heritage Christian would go on to capture the Hall of Fame Classic with a 49-27 blowout of Mooresville in Friday night’s championship game.
“Mentally, they were so frustrated. We played so poorly (against Mooresville). All the shots we hit tonight we missed this morning. It’s not that we weren’t getting good shots this morning, they weren’t going in,” Sanders said.
“It’s hard to tell if that’s our best game this season because it’s been so long since we played a really good game. It’s the best game in awhile. We shot the ball well, but defensively we’ve got to get good at stopping penetration against teams like that that are very, very quick.”
Hardin wound up with five triples for 15 points. Senior forwards Bri Gliesmann and Regan Wentland supplied 13 and 12, respectively. Six-two senior frontliner Ali Line snagged a game-high 12 rebounds after leading the Trojans with eight in the morning loss.
Personal fouls and turnovers played major roles in Center Grove’s slow start in the game against Mooresville.
The Pioneers made good on 27 of 33 free throws compared to only 3 of 8 from the charity stripe for Center Grove. The Trojans contributed 23 of the game’s 43 turnovers and shot 16 of 54 from field (.296) compared to Mooresville’s 11 of 48 (.229).
Gliesmann led Center Grove in scoring with 11 points. Line added five assists, with Wentland good for four blocks and four steals.
Norris and Gliesmann were honored as part of the six-player All-Tournament Team announced after the title contest.