Rare are the times Center Grove and Edinburgh face each other in boys basketball.
So infrequent are the matchups that it’s always worth dusting off the Milan-esque descriptions anytime Johnson County’s largest high school (enrollment 2,459) is scheduled to play its smallest (277).
Tonight’s second semifinal of the Johnson County Tournament at Franklin marks only the second time Center Grove and Edinburgh, who haven’t been regular-season opponents in decades, have met in the county tournament since it was relaunched in 2004. Center Grove beat the Lancers 68-55 in the finals in 2012.
Not surprisingly, the Lancers (5-2) look forward tonight to the rare opportunity to pull off a stunner.
“It gives us an opportunity to compete at an extremely high level against a team with some potential Division I players,” Edinburgh coach Drew Glentzer said. “It’s just a neat game for everyone to play in.”
Getting things started in the 6 p.m. first game will be a Whiteland-Franklin semifinal. The host Grizzly Cubs drew a bye based on their No. 2 tourney seeding, while the Warriors advanced by winning at Greenwood 55-41 on Tuesday.
Edinburgh earned its way to a meeting against the top-seeded Trojans by virtue of defeating Indian Creek 60-57 in the opening round.
“There are times it’s not pretty. Our motto is, ‘Doing what has to be done when it needs to be done,’” Glentzer said. “This year’s team is kind of an interesting mix. We don’t have one guy do everything; we’ve got four or five guys doing things.”
Statistical proof is the fact all four of the Lancers’ main individual categories are topped by different players: sophomore guard Collin Hoskins in points (17.3); the roster’s lone senior, Dakota Sneed, in rebounds (9.7); guard Bobby Simpson in assists (5.2); and Elliott Parmer in steals (3.8).
The victory at Indian Creek again demonstrated Edinburgh’s balance, with Hoskins, Sneed, Simpson and Matt Heagy all scoring in double figures.
“Let’s put it this way; we didn’t like the alternative (Tuesday), the alternative being that you lost. I’ve enjoyed watching this team grow up a bit,” Glentzer said.
Edinburgh is permitting only 45 points per game, but that norm will be greatly tested against Center Grove. The Trojans, led by 6-foot-4 junior Michael Benkert (21.4) and 6-1 senior zone-buster Tyler Bryant (19.0), have demonstrated at various times this season an ability to put up points in a hurry.
Center Grove is one of three Class 4A programs the Class A Lancers face this season, the others being games at Seymour and at Greenwood (Feb. 13).
Meanwhile, tonight’s Game 1 participants are much more familiar with one another as they brace to play twice in eight days (the regular-season game is Jan. 24 at Franklin).
The Grizzly Cubs have won five of the past six get-togethers with the Warriors, including the past three.
Franklin, however, promises to have its hands full with the Warriors. Since losing by 16 points at Center Grove on Dec. 20, Whiteland has regrouped to post wins in four of its past five games.
“One of the keys for us is we’ve had five consecutive games with a double-figure total in assists. We’re moving the ball better. The Center Grove game taught us we can’t rely on just one person,” second-year Warriors coach Matt Wadsworth said.
“Franklin is a well-coached team with a lot of good players returning from an outstanding team last year. When we’re on offense our ball movement will be very key.”
Whiteland finished Tuesday’s win at Greenwood with four players in double-figures — Jacob Stidham’s 15, Terr’e Moss with 12, and 11 apiece for Tom Purdie and John Hubler.