Girls basketball games between Center Grove and Franklin the last couple of years have all followed a similar pattern — low-scoring and down to the wire.
Tuesday night offered more of the same.
The Grizzly Cubs held off a furious fourth-quarter rally to pull out a 38-34 home triumph in the opening half of a boys-girls doubleheader.
“We let some turnovers on offense affect us on the defensive end,” Franklin coach Mike Armstrong said of the Trojans’ late charge, which whittled a 13-point deficit to two in the final minutes. “But you know what? It’s a win in a rivalry game, and we’ll take it.”
The nightcap was considerably less dramatic. Center Grove’s boys charged to an early double-digit lead and continued to pile on in a 75-40 rout.
Audrey Annee scored the first five points of the girls game to get the Trojans (4-4) out in front early before the Grizzly Cubs countered with an 11-0 run. Kyndell Jochim and Lauren Klem knocked down 3-pointers to bookend an and-one from Brooklyn York.
After going nearly five and a half minutes without a point, Center Grove got itself back on track with a Lilly Bischoff layup to end the first quarter. That bucket started a string of nine straight points that came while Franklin was enduring its own scoreless stretch of more than seven minutes; an Ella Hobson floater and an Aubrie Booker layup put the visitors in front, 14-11, with 3:13 to go in the half.
The Grizzly Cubs, though, answered the Trojans’ 9-0 burst with one of their own. Scarlett Kimbrell tied the game with a 3 and then added a putback to get the home team back on top. Klem ended the half with consecutive baskets in the last 12 seconds, including a running bank shot at the buzzer to send Franklin into the locker room with a 20-14 lead.
That advantage swelled to 27-16 in the third quarter after Kimbrell fed Emma Sappenfield on consecutive trips, once for a reverse layup and once for a 3-pointer at the 4:56 mark. Sappenfield hit another corner 3 with 2:15 on the clock to make it 31-18, then fed Kyndell Jochim on a back-door cut that sent the Grizzly Cubs into the final period up by a dozen, 33-21.
A Brooklyn York 3 with 5:47 to go felt like it was going to be the kill shot given the Trojans’ offensive struggles, but the night was just starting to get interesting.
Franklin (5-3), already shorthanded with just eight available players, saw Jochim and Kimbrell pick up their fourth fouls just 32 seconds apart as Center Grove started chipping away at the deficit by going at the basket. The Trojans used seven free throws to draw closer, the last of those coming on a three-point play by Booker with 3:10 left that brought them within four at 36-32.
Bischoff scored on a driving layup with 1:02 left to make it a two-point game, and a missed free throw at the other end gave Center Grove a shot at the lead. Bischoff’s corner 3 try missed the mark, though, and Jochim hit a pair from the line with 14.5 seconds remaining to finally ice it.
Trojans coach Kevin Stuckmeyer would have liked to have seen that fourth-quarter urgency from his team a little bit earlier.
“We could have been doing that the first and second quarter,” he said. “It would have probably been a different story if we’d attacked, but we settled for 3s.
“We kind of come and go … and we play too good of a schedule and too good of teams to be inconsistent like that.”
Jochim finished with 11 points for Franklin to lead all scorers, Sappenfield added eight and Klem and York each chipped in seven. Kimbrell totaled five points, 10 rebounds and three assists. For Center Grove, Annee and Booker led the way with nine points apiece and Bischoff had eight. Rachel Wirts finished with four points and nine boards.
The victory provides an emotional lift to the Grizzly Cubs, who had suffered tough losses to Indian Creek on each of the previous two Tuesdays.
“We definitely needed a win,” Jochim said.
Center Grove’s boys (3-0) led wire to wire after two Jalen Bundy baskets kicked off a game-opening 8-0 run. Wyatt Nickleson scored the next five points to draw Franklin closer, but Center Grove punched back with 11 unanswered. Marcus Ankney put in the first eight, connecting on back-to-back 3s, and then fed Dylan Meador for another trey to stretch it to 19-5 with about a minute to go in the first quarter.
Free throws — Franklin made 12 of 13 in the first half — prevented things from getting out of hand, and the Grizzly Cubs closed to within eight on a couple of occasions, the last on two Nate Corley foul shots with 2:47 left in the second period. But the Trojans closed the half with another flurry. Joey Schmitz, who had nine points in the quarter, hit a trio of shots from the line at the 1:28 mark and then fed Garrett Messer for a layup on the next trip, helping Center Grove grow its cushion back to 38-24 by the break.
The visitors opened the third with an Ankney basket and a Schmitz 3 to go up by 19 and continued to pile on, with the lead getting as large as 36 early in the fourth.
Franklin (1-1) had just five made field goals in the first three quarters.
“The way we moved the ball tonight is the way we want to play basketball all year,” Center Grove coach Zach Hahn said. “I thought we did a good job getting our posts involved tonight, too, which we hadn’t done the first two games. … I’m proud of our guys for their fight tonight, and their attention to detail. We really locked in on what we were trying to do offensively and defensively.”
Ankney had a game-high 21 points for Center Grove, while Schmitz was close behind with 17. McComb (eight), Bundy and Will Spellman (seven each) and Meador (six) all chipped in for the Trojans, who got 10 players into the scoring column.
Nickleson had 19 points for the Grizzly Cubs, followed by Jayden Razor with eight and John Shepard with six.