Host Whiteland entered Tuesday’s girls basketball match-up against Center Grove with more positive momentum than the Trojans, but the visitors seized that mojo early, put a stranglehold on it and never let up.
Center Grove, ranked 11th in Class 4A but loser of four of its past six games, hit seven of its first eight field-goal tries and 11 of 14 in the first quarter Tuesday night on the way to a 74-30 victory.
The Warriors (6-8) had won their previous two games but never had a chance in this one. They led 1-0, but Center Grove (11-4) scored the next six points and never trailed again.
The Trojans extended their winning streak against Whiteland to 11 games dating back to 2006.
“We really had a lot of energy and fun tonight, and that was the main difference,” said Trojans senior forward Ali Line, who finished with
14 points and a game-high nine rebounds. “Sectionals are coming around the corner, and we started to realize our window of opportunity is closing. This was the best game we’ve had offensively.”
The Trojans hit 27 of 50 from the floor (54 percent), including 11 of 23 from 3-point range (47.8 percent). They committed just nine turnovers and produced five double-figure scorers.
“It came down to pride,” Center Grove coach Shawn Sanders said. “We’ve had a couple of performances that were probably below our standard. We did a lot of looking in the mirror, and it was about getting back to playing simple, fundamental basketball.”
Center Grove used a collapsing man-to-man defense to contain Whiteland’s 6-foot-1 freshman center, Mackenzie Blazek.
She finished with five points and a team-best six rebounds, and only managed four shots. Sydney Mize led the Warriors with six points, while Monica Collins added five.
Meanwhile, the Trojans moved without the ball well on offense, producing repeated give-and-go layups and wide-open 3-pointers.
Regan Wentland outscored Whiteland by herself (16-15) in the first half, hitting all five of her first-quarter field goals and finishing with a game-high 16. Emma LeMasters added 12 off the bench, while Bri Gliesmann scored eight points and pulled down eight rebounds for Center Grove.
The Trojans now prepare for back-to-back Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference games, playing at Carmel on Friday and hosting North Central on Jan. 15.
“Regan and Ali are taking ownership of how we’re going to play,” Sanders said of the senior frontcourt duo. “Line is a great defender, and we’ve got a lot of girls who play well defensively. Our midline (defense) was really good tonight.”
Meanwhile, Whiteland hopes to regroup in time for a big game of its own. The Warriors play Friday at county and Mid-State Conference rival Greenwood.
“We’ve got to bring more defensively (in that game),” Warriors coach Kyle Shipp said. “At times, we were just out there. Our effort was good, but we weren’t executing the little things.”