The Student News Site of Center Grove High School


The Student News Site of Center Grove High School


The Student News Site of Center Grove High School


Trojans’ basketball team looks to build on past success in season home opener

Karleigh Barlow
Senior Will Spellman drives the ball during the 2022 game against Franklin Central. The Trojans won the game, 49-46.

No. 7 Center Grove (1-0) is set to tip-off against Franklin Central in the season home opener Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. 

The Trojans displayed an explosive offense Wednesday night, scoring 77 points and winning by 26 points against Greenwood (0-1). Four Trojan players scored double digits: Spellman (18), Chestnut (15), Schmitz (12), and Bundy (12). 

Center Grove head coach Zach Hahn points to a complete team performance, specifically on defense, as the reason for the win Wednesday night.

“We scored 30+ points in the paint and had 13 offensive rebounds with 14 assists,” Hahn said. “Our intensity on the defensive end made up for mistakes, and the transition offense was excellent.”

One Trojan turned a lot of heads against Greenwood: Senior Ben Chestnut. Chestnut, who had few varsity minutes last season, came off the bench to shoot 4/4 on three pointers and had a transition layup. 

“Ben is a competitor. He has improved his game and body. His ability to guard multiple positions and shoot from the perimeter make him so valuable,” Hahn said. “We have seven guys who deserve to start but only five players can. We will play nine guys but the top seven will share minutes close to equally.”

Will Spellman was a go-to player in the paint last season, and his 18 points Wednesday night and improvement in footwork are going to make him a force to reckon with this season. 

Spellman’s 6’5”, 225 pound frame lets him be a shifty and athletic big-man. He’s able to cut baseline and flush dunks while also being able to fade into the corner for three-point shots. 

“Will has improved his body and his game despite missing five months this offseason after shoulder surgery,” Hahn said. “His leadership and persistence on the offensive end will make him very difficult to defend. He must be a person we play through consistently.”

In the last two meetings between the Trojans and the Flashes, they are 1-1. Center Grove edged past Franklin Central in the final minute of last season’s game, winning 49-46.

Franklin Central is being led by Kyle Ballard in his debut season with the Flashes. Ballard comes from Triton Central, where he led the Tigers to back-to-back sectional championships (2021 and 2022), and earned Shelby County Coach of the Year in 2020. 

Ballard runs a lot of 5-out motion offenses. The goal of a 5-out is to create constant motion, cuts, pick and rolls, and open shots. It’s a positionless offense that’s always moving and rewards patience. It can wear down a defense and exploit mistakes on coverage or slides from the defense.

Coach Hann gives credit to Coach Ballard for running a great 5-out offense and says it will keep the Trojans on their feet. 

“Coach Ballard does an excellent job with his teams. He runs a lot of 5-out motion with constant movement. It will be a challenge for us,” Hahn said. “If we stick to our defensive principles and have great ball pressure, it should make them take tough contested 2’s or 3’s.”

The Flashes have two key returners this season, senior Josh Moriarty, who averaged a little over eight points last season and was mentioned on the Indy Star’s list of 25 potential breakout players from Central Indiana article (along with Center Grove’s Peyton Byrd). FC also has sophomore EJ Hazelett, a 6’7” wing that averaged seven points per game and ranks in the top-10 sophomores in the state in the class of 2026.

“Josh Moriarty is a guy we wish we could coach for more than just a year. He’s done everything we’ve asked for since the beginning of summer and our players have a ton of respect for him,” Ballard said. “He shoots it really well, [he] doesn’t make many mistakes and is one of our best defenders. We will expect a lot from him.”

Hazelett is on the Trojans’ radar as a standout player. Coach Hahn acknowledges Hazlett’s abilities to play wing and post up, and points out the Trojan depth it may take to contain him. 

“Hazlett is a nightmare matchup. Big enough to post but skilled enough to shoot and drive,” Hahn said. “Fortunately we have a lot of guys we can throw at him this year to give a different look. He will be a focal point for us to contain.”

Center Grove’s size is an obscurity that will trouble many teams this season. Two of the Trojans’ senior wings are 6’7” a piece – Chestnut and Peyton Byrd. The paint features 6’6” senior Will Spellman and 6’10”  junior Mike Ephraim. 

Coach Ballard understands what awaits his team in the paint, but he also points out that the Trojans have threats beyond the arc as well.

Center Grove’s size is obviously a concern. What makes it even tougher is the number of guys on the floor around them that can shoot,” Ballard said. “Coach Hahn does a great job of putting kids in a position to succeed and teaching them to play together.

Ballard says there isn’t one focused game plan against Center Grove, he simply wants his players to take the right shots when they’re open… whether it be beyond the arc or in the paint.

Offensively, our goal is to play inside out in a number of ways and get the best shots we can, whether that be around the basket or at the 3-point line,” Ballard said. “ We simply want the right guys taking the right shots, whatever those may be.”

Every coach wants to implement their styles and principles in a program. Leaving a mark on a community and its young men is the ultimate goal of coaching youth sports. Ballard’s goal is simple.

We hope to be known for our kids playing hard and together. Our goal is to make it as tough on the opposing offense as we can, and share the ball to get great shots. Those are things that drove our success at Triton Central and we are looking forward to the progress we will make throughout this season.”


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