Center Grove pitched a near-shutout in the third quarter to pull away for a 60-51 win over Lawrence Central in boys basketball Friday at home.

The Trojans allowed only a three-point play late in the quarter while scoring nine points of their own to turn a close game into a near rout. Center Grove led by as many as 20 with a minute to play before Lawrence Central scored the last 11 points for the final margin.

“We’ve worked all week on breaking presses, using jump stops and picking the ball up and sharing the ball,” Center Grove coach Zach Hahn said. “I thought we did a really good job of moving it and still being aggressive at the same time. That was the difference in the game.”

The Trojans (13-5, 3-3 MIC) led 38-26 after a strong first half but put the game away in the third.

While Center Grove didn’t burn up the nets offensively in the frame, its defense stymied Lawrence Central at every turn. It wasn’t until the 2:14 mark that the Bears were finally able to score when Jaden Terry converted a three-point play. By that time the Trojan lead was 19 (45-26).

“We’re not going to score 20 points in every quarter. We’re going to hang our hat on defense,” Hahn said. “You’ve got to get stops if you’re going to win big games and we had moments of getting consecutive stops. When you do that, it gives you a great chance to build a lead.”

Center Grove opened the game on fire. The Trojans jumped out to a 14-3 lead less than four minutes into the game on the strength of two 3-pointers by Spencer Piercefield and a dunk from Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Lawrence Central (11-6, 3-4) hung around, cutting the lead to four (28-24) midway through the second quarter after a 3-pointer from Tyler Andrew, but Center Grove quickly answered with a 10-0 run and led 38-26 at the half.

That run reached 17-2 early in the third after the Trojans opened with seven straight points and the lead eventually reached 20 on two Piercefield free throws with 1:17 to go in the game.

Lawrence Central dominated the final minute, getting eight points from D’Andre Davis as part of an 11-0 closing run that made the game look much closer than it was.

“What I like about tonight is that we maintained our intensity throughout the game until the final 50 seconds,” Hahn said.

Piercefield went 5 for 6 from the free throw line and knocked down four 3-pointers to lead all scorers with 19 points. Jackson-Davis added 13 points and four blocks and Nate McLain scored 10.

Center Grove returns to action Tuesday when it travels to Mooresville.