Stifling defense, scoring balance and fundamentally sound play had been trademarks of Center Grove’s girls basketball team this season. Tuesday, a team with similar strengths eliminated the Trojans abruptly from sectional play.
Class 4A No. 9 Franklin Central forced the Trojans into 19 turnovers, 28.9 percent field-goal shooting and never let Center Grove draw closer than six points in the second half as the Flashes won at the Franklin Sectional, 48-40.
Franklin Central (17-4) advances to play New Palestine (3-17) in Friday’s semifinal. Center Grove’s season ended at 15-6, the program’s most wins since the 2006-07 squad finished 19-7 and won a regional title.
The Flashes also defeated the Trojans 68-57 on Dec. 27, but Franklin Central still had revenge on its minds. Center Grove eliminated the Flashes in last year’s sectional opener, 40-38.
“When the girls found out they were going to play Center Grove, they were pretty excited,” Franklin Central coach Brian Hacker said. “They wanted to avenge last year.”
Franklin Central led throughout, building 5-0 and 8-2 leads. The key stretch might have been a 7-0 run that spanned the first and second halves.
The Trojans cut the lead to 20-15 with 1:47 left in the first half when Lauren Weidman hit a 3-pointer, but the Flashes’ Kyleigh Archer hit a three of her own 11 seconds later. Franklin Central started the third quarter hitting back-to-back baskets to extend the lead to 27-15.
“They started off the game on a 5-0 run, and in the second half, they immediately seized control,” Center Grove coach Shawn Sanders said. “Franklin Central just makes it so hard on you defensively. You can’t get in rhythm against them.”
Regan Wentland kept the Trojans in the game with a team-high 15 points, all in the first three quarters. Weidman, playing her final high school game, added 13. Bri Gliesmann scored five points and grabbed a game-high six rebounds off the bench.
Kennedy Archer led Franklin Central with 17 points, including 8 of 10 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
Sanders said he’s looking forward to the Trojans’ potential next season, as all but two players return, but said the team will miss Weidman and starting point guard Shelby Shaffer. Center Grove’s 15-6 record was six wins better than the previous season.
“This was one of the most special groups I’ve been around, and Lauren and Shelby led that,” Sanders said. “We have a lot of youth, and I hope we can take the program to the next level out of respect for those seniors.”