Center Grove found its scoring touch.
And more important, trust in each other.
After averaging only 43.3 points through its first three games, the Center Grove girls basketball team broke out Thursday during a 71-61 win againsat Class 4A No. 17 and Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference rival Warren Central in the league-opener for both teams.
Center Grove’s problem in its first three games was a lack of scoring. That wasn’t an issue Thursday night.
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“It finally clicked,” first-year Trojans coach Kevin Stuckmeyer said. “The girls trusted each other more, and they were more efficient with their game, so all credit goes to them. We beat a pretty good team.”
The Trojans got a season-high 14 3-pointers, with senior Cassidy Hardin hitting six of those. It’s a good thing, because at first Center Grove really couldn’t get an inside game going against the Warriors, especially when 6-5 junior center Cydni Dodd was out there to clog up the middle.
But with the outside shooting finding nothing but net, there really was no need for the Trojans to drive to the basket unless it was necessary — which it was late in the fourth quarter.
“We’re still a work in progress, but we were setting up some good screens and that gave us some pretty good shots,” Stuckmeyer said.
Center Grove (3-1) was down by two when junior Ella Thompson hit a 3 at the first-half buzzer to really add to the confidence level.
“We like to think we have a chance when the game’s close,” Stuckmeyer said. “Good teams will take care of business.
Center Grove also got an unexpected lift in the third quarter when Dodd left the game for good.
Dodd injured her right leg while jostling with the Trojan players underneath the basket and came up lame, exiting the game midway through the third quarter.
Even with the Warriors’ center out, Center Grove continued to shoot from the outside, with Hardin getting four of her 3-pointers in the second half.
The Trojans expanded their lead to 59-51 and the Warriors could not get any closer than four points the rest of the way.
Hardin led all scorers with 26 points, while Emma Utterback added 18. Warren Central (3-1) was led by Shaila Beeler’s 19 points.
The Trojans travel to Greenwood Christian for a Johnson County Tournament game Tuesday. It will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.