BY DAVID CAMPBELL
For the Daily Journal
Trayce Jackson-Davis scored 33 points and Spencer Piercefield added 20, but it wasn’t enough as Center Grove dropped a 72-69 overtime decision to visiting Brownsburg in boys basketball Tuesday.
The Trojans entered the fourth quarter trailing by nine but came all the way back thanks in large part to the 6-foot-9 Jackson-Davis, who scored eight points in the fourth. But the Trojans missed a crucial free throw with 1.5 seconds to go in regulation that would have put them ahead.
Center Grove led by as many as three in the extra session but couldn’t sustain the momentum. Cameron Alford put Brownsburg up for good with a bucket with 57 seconds to go, and Kris Jackson’s free throw with less than a second left iced the win.
Story continues below gallery
“In every game you play you want to have a chance to win in at the end. It’s unfortunate that we had to be down nine to play a little harder,” Center Grove coach Zach Hahn said. “All night I felt like we played on our heels a bit, until the fourth quarter, when we picked it up and started to get aggressive.”
Center Grove (15-6) led early only briefly and chased Brownsburg at every quarter break. The Bulldogs led 13-11 after one, 30-26 at the half and 51-42 heading into the fourth thanks to a 12-6 closing run fueled by a Trojan intentional foul.
Jackson-Davis did his part to bring the Trojans back. With Purdue coach Matt Painter watching from the stands, the junior scored Center Grove’s first three baskets and set up two more as the Trojans closed the gap to one. Ben Nicoson’s 3-pointer with 3:29 to go tied the game at 56-56.
Center Grove went ahead moments later on a Jackson-Davis basket but Brownsburg came right back, eventually going ahead 61-60 on a Pierce Thomas 3-pointer with 35 seconds to go.
The Trojans held the ball for the last shot, eventually getting the look they wanted with Jackson-Davis in the post. The big junior quickly passed out of the double team and the ball found its way to Piercefield, who drove to the basket and was fouled with 1.5 seconds left.
The junior guard missed the first shot but hit the second to tie the game and the Trojans survived a last-second shot to go to overtime.
A Jackson-Davis basket and a Noah Gillard free throw to open overtime gave Center Grove a 64-61, lead but that advantage faded quickly. The Trojans led a final time at 66-64, but Reis Thomas hit a 3-pointer and the Bulldogs built a four-point lead with 11.6 seconds left.
Jackson-Davis threw down a dunk to go to close the gap to two, but with just 1.4 seconds left the Trojans had few options left to win the game.
Center Grove went 15 of 22 from the free throw line in the game, but just 7 of 11 in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“We were able to find our groove (in the fourth) but we struggled with free throws down the stretch,” Jackson-Davis said. “I missed a few and a couple of other guys missed a few. We need to do a better job of that.”
Center Grove closes out the regular season at Columbus North on Friday.