Win-loss records, though interesting to note, mean little when postseason play begins in boys high school basketball.
Center Grove proved it Tuesday night. Two hours later, so did Greenwood.
Owner of the only losing record at the Class 4A Martinsville Sectional, Center Grove, toughened by playing a relentless Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference schedule, flattened what was Whiteland’s best team in years, 63-52.
Similarly, the Woodmen, who start four sophomores and steady senior guard Justin Conley, tripped up host Martinsville in overtime 63-60 to advance to Friday’s second semifinal game against Franklin Central.
Center Grove already had lost twice to Whiteland during the regular season; one of Greenwood’s 11 losses coming in was a 68-54 decision at home to Martinsville on Dec. 4.
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Revenge motives have a way of surfacing when a loss means an immediate pass to the off-season.
Then, of course, there’s always the timeless sports adage of how difficult it is to defeat a team — particularly a rival — three times in the same basketball season.
Whiteland, pulling out a 68-66 overtime victory at Center Grove on Dec. 18, got the Trojans’ attention. Beating them 48-46 in the championship game of the Johnson County Tournament at Indian Creek in January heightened the Trojans’ incentive for a possible rematch in the postseason to even higher levels.
“Both were two-point games. That’s what gave us a little fire, too,” Center Grove senior forward Bryce Brown said afterward.
Trojans guard/forward Drew Conrad, a 6-foot-1 senior who came off the bench to supply nine points and eight rebounds in Tuesday’s victory, echoed the revenge sentiment.
“I know we were all really hoping to draw this team after losing to them twice, especially after we lost county to them, being up four with two minutes left,” Conrad said. “That really hurt.
“I felt this was the best defensive game plan we’ve had all year.”
Whiteland came in averaging 75.7 points in its previous seven games. The 52 it produced in the loss to Center Grove was its seventh-lowest mark in what amounted to a 23-game season.
“I really take pride in doing the little things for our team. I know I’m not one of the best players in the state, but I know we can be a good team when we focus on our jobs,” Conrad said. “We can’t get too high.
“We have to come back with even more fire than when we drew Whiteland.”
Conrad noted the Trojans lost to Franklin 57-52 in early January, so he and his teammates should be plenty motivated for Friday’s rematch.
Greenwood, which displayed much late-game composure against a Martinsville squad playing at home with nine seniors on its sectional roster, snapped a 13-game postseason losing streak dating back to the championship game of the 2002-03 Perry Meridian Sectional.
Just goes to show, you just never know.