Quick start not enough for Trojans against MIC rival

Center Grove’s boys basketball team bolted to a 7-0 lead in Thursday’s home Metropolitan Conference contest against Warren Central, but it’s likely no one anticipated the swing the game would take after that.

The Warriors used a combination of tight, aggressive defense and balanced offense to completely take over. They scored 32 of the game’s next 35 points, including a 22-0 run to close the first half. It was more than enough to hand the Trojans a 66-45 MIC loss.

The loss kept Center Grove winless in conference games (0-5) and dropped it to 6-12 overall. Warren Central, which won its fifth straight against the Trojans, improved to 9-9 overall and 2-3 in MIC play.

After Center Grove tied the game 10-10 on a Joey Klaasen 3-point play to open the second quarter, Warren Central seized control.

Mack Smith hit a long jumper to give the Warriors the lead for good, then Warren Central hit four consecutive 3-pointers and converted a 3-point play. The Trojans didn’t score again until Trayce Jackson-Davis opened the second-half scoring with a 3-point play 11 seconds into the half.

“We talked about getting ball reversal all week, and I’m not sure we got too many reversals in the game,” Center Grove coach Zach Hahn said.

“Warren Central’s a good defensive team, but we had some bad turnovers and took some quick shots.”

Warren Central coach Criss Beyers said the Warriors watched Center Grove’s ball reversal while scouting the Trojans and were determined to shut it down.

“We limited their ability to get good looks and second shots. I don’t think they got too many second shots after that (7-0) span,” Beyers said. “Our help and our ball pressure were good.

“This was probably our best defensive effort all year.”

Center Grove shot 18 of 35 from the floor (51.4 percent), but hit just 4 of 15 in the first half (26.7 percent). Warren Central, meanwhile connected on 24 of 42 from the floor (57.1 percent) overall, including 11 of 19 from 3-point range (57.9 percent).

The Warriors hit 11 of 21 (52.4 percent) from the field and 6 of 11 (54.5 percent) from 3-point range in the first half.

Dean Tate led the Warriors with 15 points, all on 3-pointers. Myles Arnold added 11 points for Warren Central, followed by Bishop Smith (nine), Trequan Spivey (eight) and David Bell (eight).

Jackson-Davis paced Center Grove with 13 points, shooting 5 of 7 from the floor, but all of his points came in the second half, after the game was effectively out of reach.

Bailey Barrett added 12 for the Trojans, and all of his points came in the second half, as well.

Center Grove outscored the Warriors 35-34 in the second half and 42-34 after removing Warren Central’s decisive 32-3 stretch.

“We did a better job of battling (in the second half), but we still gave up too many layups and open threes,” Hahn said. “We didn’t follow through with what we worked on all week.”

The Trojans are off until Feb. 12 when they host MIC rival Lawrence Central, ranked 10th in Class 4A.

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Adam Wire is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.