DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Experience gained during the past three years, and past three weeks, was paramount in Friday’s Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference girls basketball matchup between Center Grove and Carmel.
The Trojans weathered early and late runs by the younger Greyhounds and held on for a 46-41 road win.
It was Center Grove’s first win at Carmel since Jan. 31, 2006.
Carmel, which started two freshmen, used pressure defense and a frenetic pace on offense to set the tone early. The Greyhounds led 12-10 just over a minute into the second quarter.
Regan Wentland hit a shot in the lane with 4:57 to play that kicked off an 11-0 run for
Four different players scored during the stretch, with Bri Gliesmann accounting for five on a 3-pointer from the wing and a layup after she gathered an offensive rebound.
A Carmel bucket at the buzzer cut the Center Grove lead to 21-14 at halftime.
The Trojans (12-4, 3-2 MIC) picked up where they left off after the intermission. They scored the first 10 points of the second half, stretching their lead to 17 points at 31-14. Carmel turned the ball over six times in the first five minutes of the period and did not hit a shot until 2:29 remained.
The Greyhounds (10-7, 2-2 MIC) slowly carved into the lead in the fourth quarter, but key baskets from Jessica Norris and free throws by Gliesmann put the game away.
Center Grove coach Shawn Sanders said the composure of the Trojans’ upperclassmen was the difference.
“Our seniors and (junior) Lauren Rau are used to being in those kind of games,” Sanders said. “We kept our poise and made some timely free throws down the stretch.”
The Trojans hit 6 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter, led by Gliesmann’s 5 for 7 from the line.
Sanders added that a defensive adjustment in the second quarter also helped change the momentum.
“We changed defenses at the beginning of the run,” he said. “It’s a 2-1-2 zone that, when we commit to it, it sparks a lot of runs for us. It energizes us and they love playing it.”
Norris, who hit all four shots she took in the second half, led the Trojans with 16 points. Gliesmann was right behind her with 15 points. Ali Line grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Center Grove hit 17 of 44 shots from the field (38.6 percent), including just 5 of 22 3-pointers (22.7 percent).
Abby Abel led the Greyhounds with 12 points. Carrie Larson also was in double figures with 10 points. Carmel hit 15 of 45 field goals (33.3 percent).
Sanders said the win was a sign that the Trojans were finding themselves after a difficult stretch in which they lost four of six games, all to ranked teams.
“We played some really good teams and I don’t think we were pleased with the way we performed. We’ve put together a couple good games in a row now. I think we’re starting to find our way a little bit.”
The Trojans continue MIC play Thursday, when they host North Central.