DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Center Grove High School boys basketball coach Zach Hahn was clearly frustrated by another failed comeback attempt.
“We have no room for error,” Hahn said after a 50-46 loss at Warren Central on Friday. “That’s two or three MIC games where we’ve gotten down 10 points or so, battled back and battled back, and we can’t find the winning plays at the end.”
Center Grove rallied from a nine-point deficit after three quarters to cut it one point with three-plus minutes left. However, host Warren Central held off the charge to register the win. Both teams are now 9-8.
Center Grove dropped to 0-5 in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference, while the Warriors improved to 3-2.
Warren Central guard Bishop Smith proved to be the difference by hitting five of six free throws in the final 1:13. First, Smith hit two free throws to push the lead to 45-40. Center Grove’s Michael Benkert then converted a three-point play to cut the lead to 45-43 with 57 seconds to go.
Smith eventually pushed the lead to 48-44 with 30 seconds left. After a Center Grove miss, Trequan Spivey hit one free throw to make it 49-44. Benkert hit two free throws to make it a three-point deficit with 6 seconds left. Smith, who finished with nine points, added one of two free throws to seal the game with 3.1 seconds left.
“You got one of your best free-throw shooters on the team asking for the basketball,” Warren Central coach Greg Graham said. “That’s all it is. When you’re comfortable in your game and demand the basketball. You just step up there and make them.
“We got up 10 and we got a little comfortable. We miss free throws, a lot of them. That kept them in the game because they made theirs.”
The Warriors were 19 of 34 from the foul line, while the Trojans were 12 of 16
Warren Central led 25-15 at halftime. Hahn said Warren Central was more aggressive team from the start.
“They set the rules in the first half,” Hahn said. “They were physical, and we didn’t want any part of it. The second half our guys came out and decided to play a little bit better basketball and be strong with the basketball.
“I’m proud of our effort. Our effort is always great. Our guys are trying to execute, but our guys need to get a little better at executing and being tough. It can’t be one or another. It’s got to be both.”
Hahn said the deficit wasn’t too much to overcome because it narrowed the lead to one.
“But it’s hard when you are down 10 to keep plugging away,” he said. “I like to change and be up 10 and then plug away, plug away and beat a really good team like Warren or Lawrence North, which we came back from last week.”
Benkert was high score for the Trojans with 20 points. Junior guard Djimon Henson led the Warriors with 16 points.