DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
The Center Grove girls basketball team overcame a tough matchup against the Lawrence Central thanks to the duo of Lauren Rau and Cassidy Hardin.
Hardin and Rau led the charge for the Trojans, totaling 41 of the team’s 57 points in the 57-48 win.
Hardin, a sophomore guard, led the team with 21. Senior point guard Rau was right behind Cassidy Hardin with 20 points.
“I really liked our effort on the defensive end. We challenged the girls this week to really defend teams, contest shots and make it hard for the opponent to do what they like to do,” Trojans’ coach Shawn Sanders said. “Rebounding has been somewhat of a problem for us and was again tonight. But I thought we did a better job of not allowing them to score off their offensive rebounds.
“Lauren Rau did a great job of leading us tonight. She got us into the right spots, made great decisions with the ball and worked really hard defensively on their best player.”
In the first quarter, Cassidy Hardin started off the game with a wide open three-point shot thanks to a drive by Rau.
Rau started off cold, but after an offensive rebound from junior Allison Utterback with 4:30 left in the quarter, she was able to end the cold spell with a deep three-pointer that gave the Trojans a 7-5 lead.
Rau didn’t look back after that in the quarter. Moments later, she intercepted a pass with 1:34 left in the first period. That steal led to a crowd-raising three-point field goal from freshman Ella Thompson. Thompson provided much-needed energy off the bench with five quick points.
Rau didn’t stop there. She found Thompson again wide for another three-point field goal on a fast-break that gave the Trojans a 18-12 lead going into the second quarter.
In the second quarter, Lawrence Central came out on fire with an 8-1 run generated by two three-point field goals. The run forced a timeout by Sanders with 6:29 left in the second period.
After the timeout, Cassidy Hardin knocked down a big three-pointer on a fastbreak generated by Rau that ended the Lawrence Central run and forced a timeout by the Bears.
At the end of the quarter, back-to-back steals by Rau generated a layup for Carleigh Hardin and a buzzer-beating free-throw line jump-shot by the senior to end the quarter. The buzzer-beater broke a tie and gave the Trojans a 28-26 going into halftime.
In the third quarter, Rau opened the period with another deep three-pointer.
Later in the quarter, a three-point play from Cassidy Hardin caused by a foul gave the Trojans momentum in the quarter and a 37-34 lead. Hardin followed that with a three-pointer to increase the lead 40-34. An offensive rebound and steal by the Trojans generated back-to-back three-pointers from Rau with gave the Trojans a 48-38 lead with 6:52 left in the game. The Trojans never looked back.
A made jump shot by Cassidy Hardin and a layup by Madelyn Bitterling gave Center Grove a 56-48 lead. A made free throw by Rau then sealed the deal for the Trojans.