La Porte turns up the heat

December 15, 2018

PORTAGE — There’s a silver lining in every dark cloud, so the saying goes.

For La Porte on Friday, the dark cloud was foul issues for its inside players and the silver lining was the pressure defense that Slicers coach Rob Walker went to with a smaller group on the floor.

“That’s the first time we’ve pressed that much in a game,” Walker said after the 57-48 Duneland Athletic Conference win over Portage. “We weren’t that good at it early in the season. Our bigs got in a little foul trouble, so we went a little small. It was working, so we stuck with it.”

La Porte (8-3, 2-2 DAC), specifically Ryin Ott, pounded the glass early, the 5-foot-11 sophomore scoring on a putback and hitting a 3 to help the Slicers begin to pull away from a brief 8-6 deficit. Keatyn Boren went to work in the second quarter when the margin reached double figures, but the 6-2 senior, sophomore post Lauren Pollock and Kaitlyn Kazmierzak all were saddled with a pair of fouls. La Porte still managed to close the half on a 10-2 surge featuring Ott, her sister Riley and Nyla Asad.

“Our guards are quick and Ryin plays like a guard a lot of times,” Walker said. “We were getting the ball in transition and doing some good stuff.”

The Slicers were in cruise control up 52-30 early in the fourth, before a belated Indians push hastened by four 3s reduced the margin to single digits in the final minute.

“We didn’t really want to fight the first half,” Portage coach Marc Bruner said. “That was the most frustrating thing. The effort, the fire wasn’t there. There was a big difference in the turnover number in the fourth quarter compared to the first three. We can (shoot) pretty well, it’s just, can we hold on to the ball long enough to get a good look?”

Kristen Cravens splashed five treys for the Indians to account for all 15 of her points. Despite the surge, La Porte was never in serious danger.

“I think Portage is a lot better than its (4-7, 1-3) record,” Walker said. “We knew they were going to make a run. You’d like to put a team all the way away, but we didn’t let them all the way back in it. They hit some big 3s. We kept on losing (Cravens) for some reason. They weren’t hitting those early, thank goodness.”

Riley Ott’s 16 points led the Slicers, 13 of those coming in the first half. She left separate from the team to have her shoulder/collar bone checked, leaving her status for today’s North Judson game in question. Ryin Ott posted 14 points and 11 rebounds.

“She’s like a stretch four,” Walker said of Ryin Ott. “She’s a unique player. She’s smooth. She works within the flow of the offense. She can step back to the 3-point line. She has range, which makes her tough to guard because then she drives baseline. It’s the best game (Riley’s had) in a while. She started out well. We’ve been fighting our way back, it seems like. It was good to have her come out of gate like that.”

The Slicers more than doubled Portage on the boards.

″(Boren) played pretty well. She was drawing a lot of attention, which opens up weak side rebounds,” Bruner said. “It’s hard to get the ball out of Riley’s hands. (Ryin) can shoot the hell out of it. They’re a tough matchup all-around. There’s a reason why they’ll be the only team in the conference to stay within 25 of Crown Point.”

La Porte 57, Portage 48

Ryin Ott had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Slicers.

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