DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Center Grove’s girls basketball team played Carmel to a 13-13 deadlock after one quarter Friday night.
But the visiting Greyhounds’ defense put the clamps on the host Trojans after that.
Carmel, ranked No. 10 in Class 4A, forced eight second-quarter turnovers, then limited Center Grove to 1-of-10 field-goal shooting in the third quarter. They held off a modest Trojans fourth-quarter threat to win a 50-38 Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference contest.
The Greyhounds (15-3 overall, 3-2 MIC) held Center Grove (9-8 overall, 1-3 MIC) to just 32.5 percent field-goal shooting for the game and used their height to dominate the rebounding statistics 33-18.
But their defense, which gave the Trojans several different looks, pressed for the majority of the game and gave Center Grove the most fits.
“They mixed it up well (defensively), and their length is good,” Center Grove coach Shawn Sanders. “They played the same defense we usually play in the second quarter, and it really bothered us.”
Carmel’s starting lineup included 6-foot-3 Blake Smith, 6-foot-2 Emily Kmec, 5-foot-10 Amy Dilk and 5-foot-9 Carrie Larson. Cassidy Hardin (5-10) was the only Trojans starter taller than 5-8.
The Trojans led 16-13 after Ella Thompson hit a 3-pointer to open the second-quarter scoring, but the Greyhounds responded by scoring 11 of the game’s next 13 points to take a 24-18 lead.
Carmel pieced together an 8-0 run midway through the third quarter that included five points off turnovers and extended its lead to 38-26.
“Our length bothers a lot of teams,” Carmel coach Tod Windlan said. “We’re good at closing out, and it looks like you have a good opportunity (to shoot), and we’ve got a hand waving at you.
“Center Grove shoots the ball well, and we wanted to try to limit as many clean looks as possible.”
Dilk led Carmel with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Smith added 13 points. Kmec finished with eight points and nine rebounds for the Greyhounds.
Allison Utterback led Center Grove with 10 points before leaving the game with an apparent sprained ankle with about two minutes remaining. Sanders said he doesn’t know if Utterback will be available for the Trojans’ next game, Thursday at North Central.
Hardin added nine points for Center Grove, while Lauren Rau and Madelyn Bitterling scored eight points apiece.
The Trojans trimmed the deficit to 44-38 with 2:33 remaining after an Utterback 3-pointer, but missed shots on two ensuing possessions in attempts to cut deeper into Carmel’s lead.
“If we played Carmel earlier in the season, we wouldn’t have been within six points late,” Sanders said. “We still feel like we’re a team on the rise. We’re starting to show more poise and intelligence. We didn’t play horribly. Carmel just played better.”
Center Grove’s next game is Jan. 14 at MIC rival North Central.