In a back-and-forth battle that featured countless momentum shifts and non-stop drama, the Center Grove boys basketball came up one big moment short Saturday, dropping a 65-63 overtime heartbreaker to Hamilton Southeastern during the Forum Tipoff Classic at Southport High School.
Playing in front of a large crowd that included such luminaries as Purdue coach Matt Painter and NBA standout Gary Harris, the seventh-ranked Trojans battled back from a nine-point deficit late in the third period and had a one-point lead in the final minute of regulation before the No. 6 Eagles pulled out the win.
“I thought we battled all game,” Center Grove coach Zach Hahn said, “but at the end of the day I think what it came down to was we made a few more mistakes than they did.”
Trailing 43-34 with 55 seconds left in the third quarter, Center Grove (5-1) cut the gap to three heading into the fourth on a three-point play by Trayce Jackson-Davis and a buzzer-beating 3 by Nate McLain. The Trojans briefly took the lead twice in the final period, the last time on a Spencer Piercefield 3-pointer with 41 seconds to go, before HSE (5-0) tied it with a late foul shot.
Jackson-Davis opened the extra frame with a three-point play and gave the Trojans their last lead, 58-56, on a basket with 2:11 remaining. The Royals scored the next six points to go up four, and while four free throws from Joey Klaasen in the last minute helped keep Center Grove alive, there wasn’t quite enough magic left.
Klaasen made a diving steal with two seconds to go, but his desperation heave toward the basket as time expired was well off the mark.
“For as bad as we executed, as bad as we shot the ball, to have a chance to win it at the end, I feel good about it, but you think about all the what-ifs,” Hahn said.
Jackson-Davis had a monster performance in defeat, finishing with 33 points, eight rebounds and seven blocked shots against HSE’s massive front line. Piercefield added 13 points for the Trojans, while Aaron Etherington led the Royals with 23.