BY DAVID CAMPBELL
For the Daily Journal

BLOOMINGTON

Struggling to score points, Center Grove put the ball in its star’s hands and Cassidy Hardin responded with 14 second-half points to lead the Trojans to a hard-fought 41-31 girls basketball win at Bloomington South on Thursday.

Hardin, a 5-foot-10 guard who is headed to Purdue, put Center Grove ahead for good on a 3-pointer with 4:06 to play then added another basket for good measure as the Trojans finally put the pesky Panthers away.

“In the first half we didn’t feel like we brought the right amount of energy. We just weren’t playing our game,” Hardin said. “At halftime we talked about what we needed to do and kind of settled into the game more and started trusting each other more. That’s why we scored.”

Center Grove (9-1) came into the game averaging nearly 54 points per contest, but it was far off that pace in the first half. The Trojans were shut out for the game’s first six minutes, managed just four points in the first quarter and had only 10 midway through the second.

Held in check early, Hardin began to heat up in the second quarter. She scored 12 points in the stanza to lead Center Grove to a 20-17 lead at the half, then took over the game in the second half.

Hardin scored all six of the Trojans’ points in the third quarter then caught fire in the fourth with a pair of 3-pointers. At one point in the game she had 26 of Center Grove’s 34 points.

“I noticed in the first half that they were really face-guarding me. I could tell they didn’t want me to touch the ball,” Hardin said. “I kind of take it upon myself as a challenge to see what I can do when they are trying to deny me. My teammates really helped by setting screens when I was open, so props to them for that. I just did everything I could to get a win for my team.”

Despite the offensive struggles, Center Grove led most of the way. Kristen Ridner opened the fourth for South by bombing a 3-pointer to put the Panthers ahead 29-26, but Hardin quickly answered with a 3 of her own to tie the game. Hardin’s trey with a hand in her face on the next possession gave the Trojans the lead for good and and kicked off a 15-0 run that opened up a 12-point lead and put the game away.

Overall Hardin was 10-of-15 from the floor for 26 points to lead all scorers. She also had four steals and three rebounds.

Karinna Frankel added five points, Amy Davis had five rebounds and three points and Ashley Eck had three assists for the Trojans.

Center Grove travels to Martinsville next Tuesday.