Whiteland’s boys basketball team got the better of Center Grove during the regular season a year ago. The first meeting between the two county rivals this year went the other way pretty quickly.
Fueled by a tenacious defensive effort and some solid outside shooting, the Trojans got out to a big lead early and coasted to a 56-35 home win on Friday night.
Center Grove (6-1) jumped on top right away, getting 3-pointers from Spencer Piercefield and Nate McLain in the opening minute. Another 3 from Cam Petty with 1:47 left in the first quarter made it 13-0, and the Trojans maintained a double-digit lead for the rest of the night.
“Everyone says defense translates to offense, and I think that was really what helped us tonight,” McLain said.
Story continues below gallery
Whiteland was unable to get into any kind of comfort zone offensively until it was far too late. The Warriors were held scoreless for the first 6:53 of the game and didn’t make a field goal until almost a minute into the second quarter.
“They did a good job taking away our drive lanes to the basket,” Whiteland coach Matt Wadsworth said. “They also limited us to one shot each possession.”
Up 24-7 at halftime, the Trojans kept their foot on the gas long enough to stretch their lead to 49-19 early in the fourth period before emptying the bench.
Trayce Jackson-Davis had a lighter offensive workload than usual but still finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds to lead Center Grove. McLain had 10 points, while Piercefield finished with nine points and five assists. The two guards combined for five of the Trojans’ nine 3-point makes on the night.
“Getting it going from outside really helps us,” McLain said. “We’re a really good outside shooting team, so when those shots are falling we’re definitely hard to beat.”
Brennan Neal and Luke Helton paced Whiteland (0-5) with nine and eight points, respectively.
Center Grove is back in action tonight at Avon. The Warriors’ search for their first win continues at Seymour on Tuesday night.