Adjusting on the fly
NORTH JUDSON — La Porte’s girls basketball team headed into Saturday’s showdown with undefeated North Judson with a few questions, most of them stemming from the absence of star point guard Riley Ott.
Ott, an Indiana Junior All-Star and a Purdue Fort Wayne signee, injured her shoulder in the Slicers’ Duneland Athletic Conference victory over Portage with about four minutes to go Friday, but finished the game out.
Without their star due to a left shoulder separation, the Slicers hung tough with the unbeaten Class 2A power Bluejays (10-0) on the road to cap off a back-to-back set of games this weekend. But the hosts were too much down the stretch, pulling away to a 56-40 victory.
“I thought our bigs played well,” Slicers coach Rob Walker said. “To get 11 points from (Keatyn) Boren and good minutes from (Lauren) Pollock coming up from JV, I thought they both had good games. I didn’t think we took advantage of them in the second half. We didn’t get the ball into our bigs well enough.”
The Slicers fell behind early by six at 12-6, but a 7-0 spurt got them back into it and into the lead at 13-12 just 45 seconds into the second quarter, thanks to a bucket from Pollock, who combined with Boren for 15 of the 46 Slicer points in the contest.
After the La Porte bigs sparked the 7-0 push, North Judson answered with a 10-2 run of its own thanks in large part to Lilliann Frasure, who finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and three steals, and helped the home side out to a 23-15 advantage.
Madeline Schumacher, who also finished with 18 points, canned a triple from the left corner with 57.6 seconds left in the first half to make it 26-17 Blue Jays. The make also gave her 1,000 points for her Bluejay career, prompting a stoppage of play for her to be recognized by the crowd and by the eldest Ott, who came out to the court to shake Schumacher’s hand.
“That’s a good team we just played,” Walker said. “They’re unbeaten for a reason. They play such good defense. They move the ball offensively. That’s a good team and they’ll probably go pretty far.”
Despite some rotation changes, the Slicers closed the first half on an 8-3 run, capped by a Kayla Jones 3-pointer that trimmed the lead to 26-23 at half.
“I liked the first half a lot,” Walker said. “I thought we played some pretty good basketball and then we started playing some one-on-one basketball in that third quarter and fourth quarter and that’s where the game got away. You can’t do that against good teams.”
The Blue Jays hounded the Slicers in the first 4:58 of the third quarter, not allowing a single point, while jumping out to a mini 5-0 run to push the lead out to eight before Ryin Ott ended the drought with a second-chance bucket in the lane.
“I thought Ryin got it going a little bit in the second half after she got off to a slow start to the game,” Walker said. “She rebounded well and got some more shot attempts up. She was a little off tonight. She’ll need to shoot it better and she will.”
The Slicers kept it under single digits for much of the contest’s latter part, but two triples in the final five minutes from forward Lauren Cox, one with 5:35 left to push the lead to eight and another with 2:20 left to push the lead to 53-40, felt like the nails in the coffin for the Blue Jays.
“I thought we had some girls step up without Riley,” Walker said. “Andrea Franklin came in and played well off the bench after not playing much at all this season. She played good defense and hit a big shot in the first half during that second quarter for us. We’re just gonna have to adjust. Everyone’s roles are gonna change a bit and it’s gonna take a team effort to make those adjustments.”
There’s no official timeline for Riley Ott’s shoulder injury, but “it’s gonna be a while,” according to the guard.
“We don’t know if or when she’ll be back,” Walker said. “And it really sucks for her because it’s her senior season and you don’t want to see her go out like that. But, it gives some kids on our team a chance to step up, play more and make some plays to help us win. It’s a process with the adjustments were gonna have to make.”
North Judson 56, La Porte 40
Slicers Keatyn Boren and Ryin Ott scored 11 points each.