INDIANAPOLIS — After Franklin Central’s Mason Hardimon knocked down a tough game-tying bank shot with 1:02 left in Saturday night’s Class 4A sectional final, Center Grove boys basketball coach Zach Hahn had a choice to make — call time and set something up, or trust your players to get it done.
Hahn rolled the dice, and it paid off.
Travis Roehling drove the lane and converted a three-point play with 5.4 seconds left, lifting the Trojans to a 57-54 victory against the host Flashes for their first sectional title since 2011 and just the program’s second in the last 23 years.
“That’s a decision that every coach has to make at that point,” Hahn said. “And with our guys, the confidence we were playing with at this point in the season, you’ve got to let them make plays.”
The play call Hahn chose to run in the final seconds was one that Roehling had cashed in on several times this season.
“I’ve been really confident with that play all year,” the senior guard said. “We’ve ran it a bunch, and I usually score on it, so I thought I’d score that time.”
Roehling’s and-one was the decisive punch in a back-and-forth slugfest that was deadlocked on 13 different occasions.
Franklin Central (11-13) took their biggest lead at 34-28 after scoring the first six points of the third quarter. But Center Grove sophomore Spencer Piercefield kept his team in range, scoring 11 of the Trojans’ 13 points in the period. His 3-pointer at the 1:45 mark of the third tied the game at 41-41 before Grant Pedigo’s three-point play put the Flashes back on top going into the fourth.
The Trojans finally regained the upper hand, 51-50, on an and-one by Joey Klaasen with 3:08 remaining in the contest, and free throws by Nate McLain and Piercefield pushed the margin to four. Franklin Central answered back, however, on a contested jumper by Pedigo and Hardimon’s shot.
That set the stage for Roehling, who tallied half of his 16 points in the fourth period.
Piercefield had 20 points for the Trojans (17-7). Pedigo finished with a game-high 22 for Franklin Central, which also got 16 from Hardimon.
The postgame celebration was a euphoric one for a young Center Grove team that was just 9-16 a year ago and dropped five of nine during a tough midseason stretch. Suddenly, the Trojans have won six of seven and
“I’ve never experienced something like this, and it’s awesome,” Piercefield said. “We’re playing our best basketball at the end of the season, and that’s what you’ve got to do.”
Next up is a trip to Seymour for a regional semifinal date with defending state champion New Albany. With that comes the task of handling junior Romeo Langford, one of the top high school players in the country.
Center Grove’s players were content to focus on their sectional win Saturday. They’ll worry about Langford and the Bulldogs this week — and put their trust in Hahn and his staff.
“The coaches always have a great game plan,” Piercefield said, “so we’re just going to listen to them, follow it, and play our hearts out.”