Since joining the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference, Lawrence Central had won three straight boys basketball games against Center Grove by an average margin of 16 points.
History might not have been on the Trojans’ side Friday night, but Trayce Jackson-Davis was.
Led by the sophomore center’s 25 points and 15 rebounds, Center Grove rallied to defeat the Bears 61-55.
Now 11-7 overall and 2-4 in the MIC, the Trojans also received 17 points from senior swingman Travis Roehling and nine from sophomore guard Spencer Piercefield.
It was the Trojans’ first victory against the Bears since the 2007-08 season and its first on the Lawrence Central hardwood since the 2002-03 campaign.
“For our guys right now it’s all about consistency and competing for 32 minutes,” Center Grove coach Zach Hahn said. “Tonight we did that. I was really, really proud of that.
“We had a tough one last week at Warren Central, but we bounced back. We found a way, and they were resilient this week. When you play good teams all the time like we do, somebody has to step up. And we’re still figuring it out. We’re still really young with a lot of sophomores playing.”
Trailing most the game by anywhere from one to six points, Center Grove finally reclaimed the lead for the first time since late in the first period on Jackson-Davis’s short one-hander off the glass. This made the score 45-44 with 5:51 remaining in the fourth, though Lawrence Central guard K.J. Davis immediately answered with a 15-foot jumper in the lane.
This set up the game’s most important sequence.
With the Trojans ahead, 47-46 and Jackson-Davis attempting to complete a 3-point sequence, his free throw was off the mark. Roehling raced in to grab the board, flipped a pass to sophomore point guard Ben Nicoson, who promptly drained a triple from the left wing.
The Bears, down 50-46, would get no closer than three points the rest of the way.
Piercefield, backup guard Nate McLain, Jackson-Davis and forward Joey Klaasen would then team to make 5 of 8 free throws in the final 40.1 seconds.
Neither club shot well from the floor with the Trojans going 20 of 45 (.444) compared to Lawrence Central’s 22 of 49 (.449). Center Grove outrebounded the Bears, 31-28.
Lawrence Central led, 28-27, at halftime, the final 3.5 seconds alone packing a game’s worth of drama.
Bears’ senior guard K.J. Davis started things with an off-balance baseline 3-pointer for what looked like the last points of the second quarter.
Center Grove quickly inbounded to Jackson-Davis, whose 65-foot heave at the horn touched all net to conclude what was a 10-point, seven-rebound first half for the 6-foot-8 sophomore.
Center Grove’s next game is Tuesday night at home against Mooresville. The Trojans then return to MIC play Friday when they travel to Class 4A No. 5 North Central.