In a 32-minute display of top defensive intensity, Center Grove’s boys basketball team beat another quality team Tuesday, this time downing Brownsburg, 44-36.
The victory was the third in a row for the Trojans (12-9) and broke a five-game winning streak for Brownsburg (18-6).
Coach Zach Hahn gave credit to the team’s defense, and it would have been hard not to after the Trojans held the Bulldogs to just 33-percent shooting from the field (11 for 33).
“They did a great job with the game plan. They were physical on their guys who can get to the basket very well and held them in check,” Hahn said. “Then late we kind of lost what we were trying to do, and they got couple of transition baskets. We took a couple of guys out and built a wall, and it helped them slow them down so we could finish the game.”
The first half was played at a slow pace, with Brownsburg leading 5-4 after one quarter and the Trojans taking an 11-9 halftime lead.
The pace picked up in the second half.
The Trojans began to get an up-tempo game going, and driving layups from Michael Benkert and Joe Lenkey gave Center Grove a brief eight-point lead before Brownsburg went on a short run of its own to cut the third-quarter deficit to 25-21.
After a breakaway dunk by KJ Walton threatened to get the Brownsburg crowd into the game, Anderson McCoy hit a 3-point field goal for the Trojans to restore their lead to six points with 6:30 remaining in the final quarter.
Having hit some shots from the outside, Center Grove started to get some looks off of back-door cuts, with Benkert’s off-the-ball work especially effective. The Trojans also entered the bonus with 2:35 remaining and began facing tests of their nerve at the foul line.
The visitors didn’t start that test so well and Brownsburg fought back to make it a two-point game with 1:15 left on a Jordache Mavunga layup.
McCoy hit two free throws to make it 36-32, but Walton scored an old-fashioned three-point play on an offensive rebound to cut the Center Grove lead to one. McCoy answered with two more foul shots to give Center Grove a three-point lead.
McCoy hit two free throws again after Walton had made one, but then Brownsburg missed three attempts in one possession, and Bailey Barrett then made two free throws for Center Grove to ice the game.
McCoy’s poise at the foul line is just what Hahn expects from the senior point guard.
“That’s what he’s supposed to do. When it’s late and the game’s close he’s the guy we have to get the ball to seal the deal, and he did,” Hahn said.
“Every time they got close he made the difference for us with a ‘3’ or a layup, or a rebound, or making big free throws. He’s done a great job all season, but especially lately.”
McCoy led the Trojans in scoring with 17 points, followed by Benkert with nine. Walton had 14 to lead the Bulldogs.
Hahn said he didn’t think the Trojans were in danger of an emotional letdown following the big win on the weekend against then-Class 4A No. 3 North Central.
“These guys believe in each other. They have tasted some success now. Sometimes you can be satisfied with that, but these guys seem to want more. They seem to enjoy winning and feeling the emotions that go with having a big win for your program,” Hahn said.
Center Grove closes the regular season Friday night at home against Terre Haute North.