When the Center Grove boys basketball team needed a run, junior Tyler Bryant and sophomore Michael Benkert provided a spark.
Not once, but twice.
Bryant and Benkert combined for 45 points to help lead the host Trojans to a 62-53 victory against Franklin in Wednesday night’s season-opener.
Troy Vorhies added 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds as Center Grove shot 24 of 48 from the field.
The Grizzly Cubs clung to an 18-15 lead halfway through the second quarter before Bryant and Benkert led a 15-5 Center Grove run that gave it a 30-23 halftime advantage.
Bryant started the run with 3-pointers on three-straight possessions in just 1:08, and Benkert followed up with three buckets.
“We let the game get away at the end of the first half,” first-year Franklin coach Jerry Bomholt said. “We never recovered from that.”
And then the Trojans used a 7-0 run, featuring a Benkert 3-pointer and Bryant bucket, to open the fourth quarter and take a 52-37 lead.
“I thought our conditioning showed in both of those situations, particularly there at the end of the second quarter,” Center Grove coach Cliff Hawkins said. “I thought our conditioning was very effective.”
Franklin clawed back with a 14-6 run to close within seven with a minute left, but that’s the closest it got the rest of the way.
Bryant scored a game-high 25 points, making 4 of 7 3-pointers, and Benkert added 20 and seven rebounds.
Hawkins said Bryant works hard on his shooting.
“He has a knack for things and just plays the game,” Hawkins said. “He just really plays the game. He’s just somebody you’d want to play basketball with. And he if keeps working on finishing strong, there’s no telling what can happen to him some nights because he’s a very good player.”
Franklin senior Keenan Wood scored a team-high 16 points. Junior Tyler Thomas added 14 points.
Bomholt said Franklin needs to focus more on its defense when its offense struggles. The Cubs were 22 of 49 from the field, including just 2 of 10 from the 3-point line.
“We don’t have that mentality yet,” Bomholt said. “We’ll develop it. It’ll take us a while to get there. But we’ll get there. And when we do, then we’re going to be a pretty good basketball team.”
Franklin (0-1) opens Mid-State Conference play at Decatur Central at 7:30 p.m. next Friday. The Trojans (1-0) play at Franklin Central at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.