Faltering in the final
MISHAWAKA — Like the old adage says, ‘It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.’
Unfortunately for La Porte’s girls basketball team, it was on the wrong side of this proverb on Saturday.
After taking an early lead, the short-handed Slicers’ offensive woes proved costly. And Mishawaka Marian showed why it’s ranked No. 4 in Class 3A and has just one loss all season. Following La Porte’s stalwart start, it quickly went downhill, never getting closer than double digits in the last three quarters.
It added up to the Slicers’ 68-29 loss to the host Knights in Marian’s Holiday Tournament title game.
La Porte’s 29 points was a season low.
“We would have liked to have gone into the new year with a better result than we had today,” Slicers coach Rob Walker said. “We played a lot of one-on-one basketball in that second half, especially when the lead got away from us. And you can’t get 20 points back with one shot.
“Then it just snowballed into really a lackluster effort by the whole team.”
La Porte (11-5) was playing its fifth consecutive game without standout point guard Riley Ott, who has an injured shoulder. It’s not currently known when she’ll return this season. She had an MRI on Wednesday and Walker said the results of the MRI will be known this coming Wednesday.
Plus, the Slicers were without forward Kaitlyn Kazmierzak, who has a knee injury.
That helped the Knights (16-1) to pounce.
Marian’s defense stymied La Porte, holding the visitors to only 23 percent shooting and forcing 24 turnovers. The Knights really pushed the pace.
At the outset, the Slicers took a 6-3 advantage. They held Marian to only five points for the first nearly four minutes. After La Porte’s early three-point lead, though, the Knights reeled off a 17-2 run to end the opening quarter. As a result, Marian went ahead 20-8 following the first and took firm control of the contest.
The Slicers never got closer than 12 the rest of the way.
At the break, the Knights led 32-15 and La Porte was staring at a 25-point deficit midway through the third.
“They’re a good ball club,” Walker said. “They capitalize on mistakes. They get a lot of baskets down low. They’ve got a couple of spot-up shooters.”
A bright spot for the Slicers was senior Keatyn Boren. The 6-foot-2 center was an offensive catalyst early, aiding her team’s quick beginning.
“(Boren) did some good stuff,” Walker said. “Other than that, we couldn’t throw it in the ocean. Any time you’re 2-for-19 from the 3-point line and 10-for-34 on two-point shots, you’re not going to win too many games.”
In addition to Boren, Ryin Ott followed with eight points, seven boards and four blocks. Alanti Biggers scored five, and Nyla Asad had four rebounds. Kayla Jones added four assists.
Marian’s Mckenzie Hudgen posted 16 points, including 3-of-5 behind the arc, while Christina Himelick recorded 13. Anija Payne chipped in 12.
In this tournament, the Slicers beat South Bend Adams 59-50 and McCutcheon 59-42 on Friday before Saturday’s setback to Marian.
Walker said this eight-team tournament is tremendous experience for his team’s future, especially for making a possible deep postseason run.
“We were one game away from being tournament champions and there’s a pretty good group of teams here,” Walker said. “And we can take that going into the sectional, knowing you’ve got to string three games together.”
Mishawaka Marian 68, La Porte 29
Keatyn Boren registered 12 points and five rebounds for the Slicers.