Even after a loss, Center Grove boys basketball coach Cliff Hawkins learned a lot about the Trojans.
They’re playing like a different team.
Despite Friday’s 73-64 loss at Class 4A No. 10 Ben Davis in a Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference game, the Trojans did several positive things.
“We felt like we took the No. 10 team hard here on their floor,” Hawkins said.
The Trojans (6-7) have lost two straight and four of their past five, but Hawkins likes where the team is going.
“We got back to Center Grove basketball tonight,” he said. “That’s a basketball team out there that was moving the basketball, playing with spirit, playing with passion.”
Center Grove junior Tyler Bryant scored a game-high 23 points. Sophomore Michael Benkert added 18, and senior Troy Vorhies scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds.
“I liked how Bryant played,” Hawkins said. “I really liked how all our players played.”
The Trojans fought the whole game.
They fell behind 10-2 early, 25-11 after the first quarter and 37-21 midway through the second quarter. But they tied the score in the middle quarters and won the fourth, 16-11, as they pulled within five points in the last minute.
The Trojans stayed in contention primarily my making 14 of 35 (40 percent) 3-pointer attempts.
“Bottom line, that was a pretty good three-point effort,” Hawkins said. “I like the conditioning of our kids tonight. We were able to mix it up with some pressing and trapping and make some things really very interesting right there.”
Down 15 points with 3:33 remaining, Center Grove used a 13-3 run to pull within five and the ball with 25 seconds left. Senior Brady Brown, Bryant and Vorhies each hit 3-pointers during that stretch.
And the Trojans had a chance to get within one possession before a turnover ended the comeback.
“We made this game really almost to a possession game, which was our goal,” Hawkins said. “We fought all the way.”
But Ben Davis (9-3) shot the ball too well in the first half, making 21 of 33 (64 percent) field goals with 10 points coming off five offensive rebound putbacks.
“We can show our kids that we’ve got to make body contact, that we’re still making too much of a free jump for the ball,” Hawkins said.
The Giants had five players in double figures, led by 18 points from senior Tony Wills. Senior Jordan King had 15 points, on 7-of-10 shooting, and nine rebounds off the bench.
Center Grove hosts MIC opponent Lawrence North at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 26.