A squandered chance
La PORTE — Despite not scoring at all in the first quarter, East Chicago Central kept playing.
Despite shooting a dismal 40 percent on free throws for the night, the Cardinals kept playing.
Despite committing 25 turnovers in the game, E.C. Central kept playing.
Even though La Porte’s girls basketball team led 16-0 after the opening period, and went ahead as much as 17 in the second quarter on Friday night, it let the visitors rally big after the break. And the Slicers couldn’t quite hold off the feisty Cardinals, falling 50-47 at home on Senior Night.
“We looked so good in that first quarter, and then, it seemed liked we were the polar opposite in the fourth quarter,” La Porte coach Rob Walker said. “We forced some shots. It was frustrating to see us go from dominating to struggling.”
In the fourth, the Slicers (14-7) got outscored 18-6, as they scuffled shooting and had some untimely turnovers.
It also helps to have a 6-foot-6 Division I-caliber player. Taiyanna Jackson led the charge for E.C. Central (13-9) in the fourth. She earned 15 of her game-high 25 points in the last quarter. That helped the visitors erase a 41-32 deficit at the end of the third.
“It was a disappointing loss,” Walker said. “Tonight, in the first quarter, we held Taiyanna Jackson down. Then, she figured out if she started posting up and going to the basket, then she’s pretty unstoppable. We didn’t an answer for her in the fourth quarter.”
After the opening period, La Porte seemed to be in full command, leading 16-0.
It held the Cardinals scoreless for the first eight-and-half-minutes, using a stingy, full-court press and effective team play. But they stayed within 12 at half, 29-17, and gradually chipped away after the break.
E.C. Central cut the margin to five midway through the third, and later, trimmed it to one with 3:48 left in the game. The visitors took their first lead, 48-47, with 1:24 to go on Taiyanna Jackson’s putback. The Slicers then had turnovers on their next two possessions, and Taiyanna Jackson split a pair of free throws twice in the last :17.9 seconds to make it 50-47 with :2.5 seconds left. Kayla Jones’ game-tying, half-court heave at the buzzer was off the mark.
The Slicers’ Ryin Ott recorded a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Riley Ott led the team in scoring with 14, going a perfect 8-for-8 on free throws. Riley also had four rebounds, four steals and three assists. Andrea Franklin and Jones each added six points, and Jones posted four steals.
“The seniors really came out and played well in that first quarter,” Walker said. “Andrea Franklin played well in the first quarter. Kaz (Kaitlyn Kazmierzak), that’s her first points in 10 games. She got injured in the Portage game and we didn’t think she was coming back. So it’s nice to have her back. She hit a three and a two. It was nice to get her back going, because she needs a couple games under her belt before we get to the sectional. Riley (Ott) and Keatyn (Boren) played hard. They all played hard.”
In addition to Taiyanna Jackson, the Cardinals’ Tiara Jackson had 17 points.
E.C. Central went only 15-of-37 from the charity stripe.
La Porte’s junior varsity won 57-41. Aydin Shreves led the Slicers with 13 points, and Kira Morton scored nine.
East Chicago Central 50, La Porte 47
Ryin Ott paced the Slicers with a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.