One player scoring over 50 percent of a team’s points might not be the best recipe for beating a good team on the road.
Eighth-ranked Center Grove led only twice Friday night as it fell to Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference leader Carmel 73-64. It was the Trojans’ fourth consecutive loss to the Greyhounds at their gym and seventh straight overall.
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Junior center Trayce Jackson-Davis erupted for 33 points for the Trojans (9-2, 1-1). Seniors Joey Klaasen and Nate McLain added 13 and 10, respectively.
Carmel improves its league mark to 3-0 after being led in scoring by 6-foot-6 junior swingman Andrew Owens with 21 points. The Greyhounds made good on 27 of 39 free-throw attempts compared to the visitors’ 8 of 14.
“Trayce is a heck of a player, and he’s going to score some points. We wanted (6-10 Carmel center) John Michael (Mulloy) to try to make things difficult for him,” first-year Carmel coach Ryan Osborn said. “The guards had to do their job, too.
“(Spencer) Piercefield and McLain are both really good shooters. We can’t have Trayce getting his 25 and then having McLain get his 15.”
Fifteen of Owens’ points came before halftime as the Greyhounds settled in with a 29-23 halftime lead.
The Trojans led only twice the first two periods, with 21-20 and 22-21 advantages midway through the second period. It was then that the 6-foot-6 Owens took over with baskets underneath and a triple with only 2.6 seconds remaining.
Carmel converted 11 of 20 field-goal attempts (.550) before intermission, compared to Center Grove’s 9 of 22 (.409).
The Greyhounds led by nine through three and by as many as 14 points in the final stanza. The Trojans got as close as six, 66-60, when McLain dropped a trey from the left baseline, but Carmel went 7 of 8 from the charity stripe in the final 39.3 seconds.
“We hit them when they were important. Down the stretch, guys stepped up and made big free throws, and that’s something we’ve struggled with the last couple of games,” Osborn said. “It was just a matter of getting the confidence back.”
Another double-digit scorer for the Greyhounds was junior guard Luke Heady, who hit 11 of 12 from the free-throw line and finished with 17.
The Trojans now prepare for next week’s Johnson County Tournament. Friday’s semifinal games will be played at Center Grove, with the host squad, the No. 1 seed, drawing a bye and facing either Indian Creek or Greenwood Christian Academy.