Center Grove played with a level of intensity Friday night that might make the Trojans even more difficult to beat moving forward.
Playing inspired basketball at both ends of the floor for all 32 minutes, the Class 4A No. 8 Trojans won at Ben Davis, 56-45, to pick up their first Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference victory.
Center Grove’s frontcourt duo of 6-foot-9 senior post Trayce Jackson-Davis and 6-7 junior forward Justin DeGraaf were unstoppable. Jackson-Davis dominated to the tune of 23 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks, while DeGraaf double-doubled his way to 16 points and 11 boards.
The Giants came in having won six of the last seven games against the Trojans.
“We just didn’t want to get off to an 0-3 start in the MIC. That was a big part of it,” Jackson-Davis said. “We had to get off to a good start, and I thought we did. It was just a lot of energy we played with tonight, which was good.
“After the county tournament, going into practice we started playing with high intensity every day.”
Center Grove led the entire game, though the Giants stayed close until midway through the third quarter. It was then that the Trojans, clinging to a 34-30 advantage, closed the period with a 17-4 scoring run started by DeGraaf’s 3-pointer at the 4:18 mark.
Jackson-Davis followed with the first two of his three dunks in the quarter, followed by senior guard Spencer Piercefield knocking down a triple. The Giants, trailing 47-34 after three, pulled as close as seven points in the fourth, but Piercefield’s four straight points in the final 36.2 seconds clinched the win for Center Grove.
Piercefield also scored in double figures with 12.
“We’re getting good shots. We’ve started moving the ball within the last week and focused on just getting the ball moving. I thought tonight we did a great job of that,” Trojans coach Zach Hahn said. “we found open shooters when they were open.
“We didn’t make all of them, but that’s part of the game. What I loved is Trayce, (DeGraaf), Ben Cooney, Charlie Bemis and those guys flew into the glass. (Jackson-Davis and DeGraaf) carried the load for us tonight, but, again, our guards were so solid and they were tough. An enthusiastic win, defensively and offensively.”
Center Grove won the rebounding battle, 33-25. Neither squad fared well from the floor, the Trojans making 20 of 52 shot attempts (38.5 percent) to the Giants’ 16 of 45 (35.6).
The focal point offensively for Ben Davis was 6-4 senior swingman Jalen Windham, who finished with team highs in points (25) and rebounds (7). The rest of the Giants combined for 20 points.