DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Whiteland’s girls basketball team ended a 14-game losing streak against Center Grove on Nov. 20 with a county tourney semifinal victory on the Trojans’ court.
Tuesday night, Center Grove, hosting the Warriors again, wasn’t about to let history repeat itself.
After Whiteland built a 31-27 lead early in the third quarter, the Trojans exploded with a 22-2 run to take control of the game. They cruised from there to a 62-49 win against their county rivals.
“We were definitely out for blood, so to speak,” said Center Grove senior Cassidy Hardin, who led all scorers with 29 points and also grabbed a game-high six rebounds. “We played with lots of energy and got lots of steals, which pumped us up.”
The Trojans (9-7) forced nine third-quarter turnovers and harassed Whiteland (8-6) into 22 miscues. Center Grove committed just 10 turnovers, and only one in the third quarter.
“They outplayed us in all phases,” Whiteland coach Kyle Shipp said. “They pressed us a little bit, and we didn’t react well. (Center Grove) wanted it a little more and played with a little more tenacity.”
Whiteland shot 17 of 27 from the floor (63.0 percent) but attempted 19 fewer shots than Center Grove, thanks largely to the turnover disparity. The Trojans also shot better than 50 percent, hitting 25 of 46 from the floor (54.3 percent).
Hardin cut quickly to the basket repeatedly for layups and shot 5 of 8 from 3-point range. She hit 11 of 17 field goals overall en route to her 29 points.
Lauren Rau added 12 points for the Trojans, while Madelyn Bitterling contributed eight points.
Whiteland’s 6-foot-2 sophomore center, Mackenzie Blazek, led the Warriors with 18 points, while Sidney Crowe added 16 and Kate White scored nine. No other Whiteland player scored more than three.
“When (Hardin) gets going like that, she can be hard to stop,” Shipp said. “She shot the three well, and then she started cutting and moving well.”
During Whiteland’s county tourney win against Center Grove, the Warriors pulled away with a dominant fourth quarter, after the teams played relatively even through the first three periods. Tuesday, the Trojans dominated the third quarter, outscoring Whiteland 24-8. The Warriors outscored Center Grove 41-38 in the other three quarters.
“We were a lot more patient on offense this time,” Trojans coach Shawn Sanders said. “In other games, we’d make one or two passes and then take a shot. Our shot selection (Tuesday) was fantastic, and when Cassidy lets the game come to her, she can be as good as anyone in the state.”
Center Grove hosts Metropolitan Conference rival Carmel, ranked No. 10 in Class 4A, on Friday. Whiteland hosts Mid-State Conference rival Greenwood on Friday.