Aiming to rise up
La PORTE — Riley Ott will miss at least the next three games due to a shoulder injury, said coach Rob Walker.
The La Porte girls basketball standout and Purdue Fort Wayne signee suffered the injury in December 14’s win at Portage. Ott has missed the Slicers’ last two contests. She had an MRI on Wednesday. Walker added the results of Ott’s MRI will be known next Wednesday. Consequently, Ott hasn’t been released by the doctors to play.
“It’s a waiting game right now,” Walker said. “Hopefully she can come back before the end of the season.”
Ott is averaging 17 points a game this season, to go along with 4.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.6 steals per contest.
La Porte next plays in a tournament at Mishawaka Marian on Friday and Saturday. It faces South Bend Adams in Friday’s opener at 10 a.m. It then meets the McCutcheon/Munster winner or loser later on Friday at 6 p.m. The Slicers play their last game of that tournament on Saturday at either 10 a.m. or noon. Ott will miss this entire tournament.
Walker realizes that the dynamic of his team changes with Ott out.
“It gives an opportunity to some other players,” Walker said.
Guards Kayla Jones and Nyla Asad will have to help pick up the slack in lieu of Ott.
“I like what Kayla Jones did last game,” Walker said. “Over the last couple of games, Kayla Jones has done a nice job with leadership. Nyla Asad really did well with 16 points in the last game. She was 6-of-8 from the floor and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line. So Nyla Asad really shot excellent from the floor and we hope that carries over to the tournament.”
Besides Jones and Asad, forward Ryin Ott, Riley’s younger sister, will be counted on to shoulder the scoring and leadership roles. Ryin has recorded 16.8 points and 9.8 boards an outing.
In addition to Riley Ott, Kaitlyn Kazmierzak is also out with a knee injury she suffered against Portage. Kazmierzak is typically La Porte’s sixth player.
With those two players missing, Walker said that’s afforded a pair of players, Lauren Pollock and Alanti Biggers, more playing time, besides giving the Slicers a bigger starting lineup. Pollock joins Keatyn Boren as a starter.
“To have two 6-foot-2 players on the floor at the same time, it gives us a totally different look,” he said of Pollock and Boren. “And then, we’ve also given Alanti Biggers an opportunity. She’s been coming off the bench playing some point guard and shooting guard. She was the JV point guard, but she’s playing on the varsity now. They played really well against Elkhart Memorial. We’ll see what they do Friday in the tournament, because each game with new players getting new roles, they’re just going to get better every game.”
Walker added he hopes Kazmierzak returns in a few weeks.
Despite her absence, Walker said Ott has been very willing to aid the squad in various ways.
“She’s been helping the team out with plays,” Walker said. “And sitting on the bench coaching, because she’s been a leader the last three years. She knows all the plays. She’s basically been like a coach on the floor, so she’s been good on the bench. We’d much rather have her on the floor of course. She can point stuff out to the other players. It’s just been a real good thing that way.”
In La Porte’s pair of contests that Ott has missed so far, the team has gone 1-1, falling at North Judson on December 15, but routing Elkhart Memorial last Thursday night. The Slicers have a 9-4 record this season and are tied for second in the Duneland Athletic Conference at 2-2.
Ott was named an Indiana Junior All-Star last season, helping guide the Slicers to a 17-6 mark.