Short-handed Westville can’t keep pace
PORTER TOWNSHIP — The absence was conspicuous on the bench, in the score book, and most of all, on the floor.
Sarah Weston, Westville’s leading scorer and tallest player at 5-foot-9, was suspended for Tuesday’s Porter County Conference tournament opener with Kouts for disciplinary reasons, and the punchless Blackhawks labored mightily without her, falling to the Fillies, 45-25.
“Kids make bad decisions sometimes,” Westville coach Josh Goeringer said. “Sarah knows better. I know it’s killing her. It’s killing me, too. It was terrible timing.”
Goeringer only had Monday to prepare the Blackhawks (11-7) for Kouts (8-11) minus Weston, which Westville had beaten 46-40 on Dec. 4, and the lack of offense in her absence was far too much to overcome as it made just 6 of 46 shots.
“The basketball IQ is the biggest thing, her decision-making abilities,” Goeringer said. “With her gone, we’re changing things, kids are playing different roles. We had to play who was here. I wanted to see how we would play with her missing.”
Westville hung around for a quarter, trailing 13-10 with Weston’s freshman sister Grace scoring seven points in that span, but the middle periods saw the Blackhawks managed just one basket -- a Nicole Albers 3 -- and six points as Kouts opened a 14-point lead.
“She plays a really big role,” Grace Weston said of her sister. “We all depend on her. Without her, we have a lot less size.”
That showed as Kouts’ Lyndsey and Morgan Kobza each scored 13 points, most of them at the rim or the free throw line, where the Fillies connected on 19 of 23 attempts. Morgan Kobza nabbed eight rebounds and Lyndsey Kobza matched that number in steals.
“I don’t think we came in thinking it was changing anything,” Albers said of the absence. “Losing (Sarah) affected us, but we adapted to it. We all know how to play every position. We’re interchangeable. I just think we lost focus.”
Left to try to find a positive from a negative situation, Goeringer liked the effort despite the outcome.
“All the credit to Kouts, but I think fatigue set in there,” he said. “We’ve got some new players, transfers, and for some of them, this was their first time playing in a tournament. But they plugged away. It’s a learning lesson on how they would react. They didn’t roll over.”
The younger Weston tallied 15 points.
“I feel like we all gave it our all, even though the scoreboard doesn’t show it,” she said. “Sarah feels like she let the team down in a big way, but we had to keep positive and not let it bring the team down.”
Albers picked up six rebounds for Westville.
“It’s very frustrating. It’s a game we should have won,” she said. “Even before, when we beat them, we should have won by more. It sucks, but we’ve still got more games to play, sectionals. Our season’s not done for sure.”
Porter County Conference Tournament
Kouts 45, Westville 25
Grace Weston had 15 points for the Blackhawks