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Smooth shooting by Center Grove senior results in big victory

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Center Grove senior backcourt mates Shelby Shaffer and Lauren Weidman have played together for several years.

In all that time, Shaffer said she couldn’t remember seeing Weidman shoot as well as she did Wednesday against county rival Whiteland.

Weidman drained all but one of her 11 field-goal attempts against the Warriors en route to a game-high 27 points. Shaffer assisted on a few of those baskets as the host Trojans rode Weidman’s hot hand and an equally hot start to a 58-44 victory.

“She’s my favorite player to play with,” said Shaffer of Weidman. “We were coming off two losses (Friday to Franklin Central and Brownsburg in the Franklin Central Tournament), and this win was really good.”

Weidman connected on 5 of 6 from 3-point range and hit all five of her shots from inside the arc. Center Grove coach Shawn Sanders said Weidman lamented a missed free throw despite all that. She hit two of her three free throws.

“The first words out of her mouth after the game were, ‘I missed a free throw,’” Sanders said. “She’s a natural scorer, and she does it a lot of different ways. There were times during the game when we were desperate for a basket, and she would come up with one.”

Weidman keyed the Trojans’ fast start, which proved vital as the game progressed. She opened the scoring with back-to-back 3-pointers and scored eight points as Center Grove built an 11-0 lead in the game’s first five minutes.

Whiteland (6-8) chipped away at the lead, eventually trimming it to 33-29 with 5:10 remaining in the third quarter. From there, a variety of Trojans helped build the lead back to double digits.

Weidman (four points), Bri Gliesmann (four), Regan Wentland (two) and Ali Line (one) scored during another 11-0 Center Grove run, which extended its lead to 44-29 at the end of the third quarter. The Warriors never drew closer than 12 after that.

“We’ve just got to find a way to come out ready to play,” said Whiteland coach Kyle Shipp. “You can’t come out down 19-6 (the score at the end of the first quarter). During our comeback, we played with energy. We just couldn’t maintain that intensity.”

The Warriors’ Chelsea Perry nearly matched Weidman’s offensive output. She finished with 25 points, including six 3-pointers. Kaitlyn Phillips added seven points for Whiteland, while Michaela Harris totaled six points and a team-high five rebounds.

Weidman wasn’t the only Center Grove player to shoot well. The team hit 20 of 32 field goals (62.5 percent) and 6 of 9 from 3-point range. Gliesmann came off the bench to add 11 points, hitting 7 of 8 free throws, while Wentland and Line each added seven. Shaffer dished out four assists.

“My teammates did the dirty work, and all I had to do was get open,” said Weidman. “It’s always important to get off to a good start like we did, but it’s even more important against Whiteland because they’re going to give you everything they’ve got.”

Center Grove is off until Jan. 10, when it plays host to Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference rival North Central. Whiteland returns to action Friday when it plays at county and Mid-State Conference rival Greenwood.

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