BY MARK AMBROGI
For The Republic
Consistency has been a key factor in the Center Grove High School basketball team’s recent play.
“That’s been a big key for us down the stretch,” Trojans coach Zach Hahn said. “Early on in the year, we were playing kind of sporadic. We’d be really good offensively and really bad defensively, or really good defensively and really bad offensively. We’re getting better on the defensive end.”
The Trojans (15-7) won for the fourth time in their past five outings, beating visiting Columbus North 54-42 on Thursday night in the final regular-season game for both teams.
The Bull Dogs (15-8) led 15-14 after the first quarter, but the Trojans grabbed control for good in the second, using a 19-6 edge to take a 33-21 halftime lead.
“We went stagnant offensively,” North coach Paul Ferguson said. “We struggled guarding them. We fell behind and never got into a good rhythm. They hit a lot of shots off their ball screen action. We struggled defending their ball screen and just didn’t get any offense out of our defense.”
Center Grove kept the pressure on by outscoring North 8-7 in the third quarter.
“Guys are locked in a little more,” Hahn said. “Offensively, we’re understanding our roles better. We’re doing a better job spacing.”
Sophomore Spencer Piercefield led the Trojans with 15 points, hitting 3 of 7 from 3-point range.
“He’s continuing to progress every day,” Hahn said. “Being a sophomore playing in our league (MIC) when you don’t have all the physical strengths and abilities, but he has the mental toughness and shot making. What I like about him is he’s a relentless worker, and he gets better every game. He’s able to put the ball on the floor a little more and put more pressure on the defense.”
The Bull Dogs were 16 of 45 from the field. In contrast, Center Grove hit 19 of 35 shots (54.3 percent) overall and was 8 of 15 from the 3-point line.
“We shot with confidence, and that kind of busted the game open for us,” Hahn said.
Trojans sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis and senior Travis Roehling each had nine points.
Jackson-Davis, who also had seven rebounds, was able to help limit North’s Alex King to 10 points.
“He guarded King on the perimeter and kind of shut him down for two quarters,” Hahn said.
Senior guard Zach Green led the Bull Dogs with 12 points.
Ferguson took his starters out midway through the fourth quarter when it seemed a comeback was unlikely.
“We didn’t want to get anyone hurt before sectionals,” Ferguson said. “It’s wasn’t our night.”