A total team effort
MICHIGAN CITY — The front half of Friday’s 58-45 rivalry victory for Michigan City over county foe La Porte meant just a little bit more than usual to Wolves coach Mike Megyese and assistant coach Dan Libertowski.
Hours prior to tip-off before the annual girls-boys varsity doubleheader, Libertowski’s mother Winnie passed away and both coaches were emotional after their team’s 13-point victory where three girls scored in double figures, led by Katelyn Halfacre’s 18 points, 14 of them coming after halftime.
“This game’s for Winnie,” Megyese said with tears in his eyes, glancing over at his long-time assistant. “This one’s for her. One of the best ladies you’d ever meet.”
The Wolves fell behind 16-12 after the opening frame thanks to a pair of triples from Ryin Ott and Nyla Asad off the Slicer bench, but roared back to take 24-22 halftime advantage with 12-6 second period that saw four different Wolves contribute with at least one field goal, despite turning the ball over 13 times in the opening 16 minutes, and 26 times on the evening.
“The kids played great tonight,” Megyese said. “One thing I notice about our kids was they got down early and you always want them to respond in a good way in a rivalry game, but you never know. I could see it in their eyes. They just said, ‘Alright, let’s make a play, get a stop, play some defense’ and before you know it, we’re up by two at halftime.”
As good as the Wolves (15-4, 6-1 Duneland Athletic Conference) were in the second frame, it was the third period that broke the game opening for the home side, racing out to a 17-6 quarter and leading 41-28 with eight minutes left. Halfacre scored nine points, but it was the play of sophomore forward Trinity Thompson that stood out for Megyese.
The Gary West Side transfer poured in 10 points, grabbed 16 rebounds, stole the ball three times, dished out two assists and blocked a shot attempt. Megyese said she was “a man among women tonight and couldn’t be any more proud of the way she played.”
“That’s the first time he’s ever said that to me,” Thompson said with a big smile after the win. “He’s always said I’m a little more aggressive, but I’ve never heard I was a man amongst women, so it was very hilarious to hear that.”
Along with Thompson stuffing every stat on the sheet, Xavier commit Hannah Noveroske added 14 points, grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds and blocked eight shots, while the City guards hounded Purdue Fort Wayne commit Riley Ott and sister Ryin to the tone of 8-of-29 shooting from the sisters for 23 of the 45 Slicer points. The Slicers (14-6, 4-3 DAC) shot just 22.6 from the floor (17-of-75) and scored just 12 points in the second and third quarters after a 16-point first frame.
Asad paced La Porte with 16 points, and Ryin Ott had 12. Riley Ott chipped in 11.
“We tried to focus on the Ott sisters,” Thompson said. “It was more of a guard everybody thing, but we know they were they were their best players. We just had to dig in and help teammates everywhere, no matter who they were.”
With the victory, the Wolves close the DAC slate at 6-1, finishing in second place behind unbeaten Crown Point (22-0, 7-0 DAC) after the Bulldogs pounded Chesterton on Thursday night, 56-22.
“We don’t wanna lose again,” Megyese said. “The (tournament) draw is on Sunday and I’ve said this before, but I don’t care who we get in the tournament. That’s not cocky. That’s just because we feel we can play with anybody. We’re gonna have to win two or three games anyway. We’re gonna give it our best shot. People say you want your team to peak at the end of the year. We’ve been peaking for about a month now.”
Michigan City 58, La Porte 45
Three Wolves scored in double figures, led by Katelyn Halfacre’s 18 points.