Contrary to what some might believe, the seventh-ranked boys basketball team in Class 4A isn’t just Kyle Guy and those other guys.
Lawrence Central is big, quick, talented, unselfish and deep.
Coach Al Gooden’s Bears proved it again Friday night with a 72-51 decision against host Center Grove to win the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference championship outright with a perfect 7-0 record.
Guy, the rail-thin 6-foot-3 senior guard and Indiana Mr. Basketball hopeful signed to play at the University of Virginia, finished with 15 points for Lawrence Central, as did 6-3 senior guard Tyrrelle Walker.
Six-three senior forward Mehki Biffle wound up with 14 points for the Bears while also crashing the glass for a game-best nine rebounds. Freshman Lashon Bright came off the bench to score nine points in the victory.
Gooden’s squad wrapped up the MIC title, but it was anything but easy. Five of Lawrence Central’s triumphs were by a total of 12 points.
“It’s not an easy conference to win. Right now I can exhale for a little bit,” Gooden said with a laugh. “We’re a good team. We try to share the ball with everybody.
“We know (Center Grove) has good shooters. We wanted to take that away from them and get off to a great start.
Lawrence Central’s quickness played a major role in the Trojans’ 11 first-half turnovers and the Bears, who never trailed in the game, settling in for a 39-24 halftime lead.
Converting a sizzling 16 of 25 field-goal tries, Lawrence Central played the first half without once trailing. Two quick hoops in close by Walker got things rolling for the Bears, who never looked back.
Three triples by Trojans sophomore guard Nate McLain in the first stanza and his jumper at 7:14 of the second kept the Trojans close at 20-17 before the visitors went on a 9-0 scoring run to take command.
The first six Center Grove points of the second half were provided on hoops in close by 6-6 freshman post Trayce Jackson-Davis, the last one pulling the Trojans to within 43-30 early in the third.
From this point it was all Bears.
An 8-0 Lawrence Central run was interrupted briefly by a Bryce Brown triple, but then Gooden’s squad then pieced together another burst — this one 11-0 — to win going away.
Jackson-Davis led Center Grove with 12 points and seven rebounds, while McLain added 11 points and Brown 10. Senior guard Trevor Harrell drilled a pair of treys on his way to eight points.
Lawrence Central finished 30 of 50 from the field compared to Center Grove’s 20 of 44. The Bears also won the rebounding battle, 24-20, and attempted 13 free throws to the home team’s two.
Center Grove (6-13, 0-6) is back in action Tuesday night at Mooresville before returning home to host Class 4A No. 3 North Central on Friday.
Lawrence Central (15-5) hosts Mount Vernon this evening.
“We’ve got to come right back and play again against a very, very good team in Mount Vernon,” Gooden said.