Of all the impressive numbers surrounding the Center Grove girls basketball team, one figure stands above all: 45.3.
That’s the points-per-game average scored against the Trojans.
When juxtaposed with another figure, 55.9, the Trojans’ points-per-game scoring average, it’s easy to see why they are one of the area’s hottest teams as the regular season winds down.
Winners of eight of their past 10 games and three straight overall, the Trojans are 12-4 with four more to play. Moreover, at 4-0 in league play, they are one of only two unbeaten teams in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference and control their own destiny in the race for the championship.
In total, the Trojans are confident it will add up to a lengthy postseason run, which is their ultimate objective as they set their sights on winning the conference title.
“That’s a huge goal. That’s what we’ve been striving to get,” sophomore guard Maddie Kolthoff said. “We want to go undefeated in the MIC and then win sectionals and then go into regionals and see if we can win that, too.”
Junior guard Shelby Shaffer echoes the sentiment — in an even bigger way.
“The MIC’s the best conference in Indiana,” she said. “It’d be really great to go into our postseason with winning the MIC and just have that confidence that we can win the sectional and the regional and possibly semistate and state.
“I think that would give us the confidence for the rest of the season, knowing that we can win it all.”
Center Grove’s bid for the league title resumes today against visiting Ben Davis (9-7, 2-3 MIC), the first of a brutal four-game stretch that includes three conference opponents and a rematch against Johnson County Tournament champion Greenwood (13-3).
Greenwood handed the Trojans a 55-48 loss in the championship final of the county tournament Nov. 17. But according to Center Grove coach Shawn Sanders, much has changed since then.
Especially on defense, where the Trojans have been nothing short of stifling. They are coming off a 71-36 win against Perry Meridian and have given up 60 or more points only twice all season.
“Our team has so much potential defensively,” Sanders said. “We’ve got length, we’ve got quickness, we’ve got rebounders, and we’ve got a lot of things that make you better defensively. We keep getting better and better and better.
“They get in there and help and talk. Defensively, I really like how solid we’re getting.”
Offensively, the Trojans are evolving, too. They have scored 55 or more points nine times in the past 10 games and have done so with an intentional balanced attack.
Junior guard Lauren Weidman is the only player who averages double figures (12.0 ppg), but six others contribute regularly. Freshman forward Breanna Gliesmann averages 9.1 ppg, and freshman forward Ali Line averages 8.7 ppg. Kolthoff averages 7.8 ppg, and sophomore Bobbie Clayton and freshman Regan Wentland average 6.4 ppg apiece. Shaffer averages 5.1 ppg.
“For the most part, I really feel like our balance has been great,” Sanders said. “Our team chemistry has been really good. The fact that they come to practice every day ready to get better has been one thing that I’ve been most pleased with.
“We’ve had a couple bad games, but for the most part I feel like we’re playing the way we should be playing.”
Kolthoff feels the same way.
“We all know what each other’s strengths are, what our go-to plays are, and we’re just clicking at the right time, on and off the court, too” she said. “This is when we want to be playing our best basketball.
“Our chemistry’s really good. I think we should win sectionals.”
But first things first.
Center Grove can win the MIC outright by running the table against Ben Davis, Lawrence North and Carmel. But the going won’t be easy. All three have winning records, and Lawrence North is ranked No. 5 in Class 4A. The Bears are 15-3 overall and 5-0 in the MIC.
Carmel is 8-7 overall and 2-2 in league play.
But the Trojans are undaunted.
Far from it.
“Our confidence is super-high right now, but we’re not going to get too cocky,” Shaffer said. “We’re staying together pretty well, and our chemistry’s better than ever. That’s been the biggest factor.
“We’re a lot closer, on and off the court.”