Slicers survive scare
ST. JOHN — After suffering a mild AC separation in her left shoulder that put her senior season briefly in question, La Porte guard Riley Ott made her return for the Slicers on Saturday afternoon in a big Duneland Athletic Conference battle against Lake Central. She had missed the last five games after getting hurt in December 14′s contest at Portage.
And the senior stalwart made her presence immediately felt, while helping her team break a five-year drought of its own against the Indians.
Ott scored a game-high 18 points, including seven points in the final period that saw La Porte rebound from a five-point deficit to start the period and overtake Lake Central 49-44 for its first win against the Indians since the 2013-14 season.
La Porte (12-5, 3-2 DAC) also received big contributions, inside and outside, from senior center Keatyn Boren (11 points, four rebounds), Ryin Ott (nine points, seven boards). The Slicers outscored the Indians 15-5 in the final quarter and sank five free throws in the final 25 seconds to seal the victory.
“I was a little tired at times because I’m just coming back,” Riley Ott admitted. “Other than that, I felt perfectly fine. I just came back Wednesday and got the amount of practices needed to be able to play today. It was awesome. I missed it, let me just say that.”
The Slicers used a 13-0 run that began with 1:01 left in the third quarter via a basket by Ryin Ott, and was capped off by Riley Ott’s score with 3:30 remaining in regulation and a 43-39 lead, an advantage they wouldn’t surrender the rest of the game.
“What a great game for Riley to come back in,” La Porte coach Rob Walker said. “To win for the first time in five years is great. The biggest thing for us was that we only had two turnovers in the second half. When you can do that in a high-pressured game when we were down 11 points at halftime, that was big.
“Assists wise, we were well balanced. All of Ryin Ott’s rebounds basically came in the second half, so that was huge. We have good guards, and we hit the free throws that we needed to hit down the stretch.”
Lake Central (5-13, 0-5 DAC) broke a tie score after one period of play with a 17-6 second quarter for a 34-23 half lead. La Porte started the third with a 7-0 burst behind five points from Alanti Biggers and a basket by Riley Ott, while cutting the deficit to 39-34 with a quarter to play.
“We started to press in the third quarter and we changed our defense,” Walker said. “We started paying attention to (Sara) Zabrecky (team-high 14 points) because she’s quite a shooter, and we got more in our dribble-drive offense. It paid off.”
Free throws by Riley Ott, Boren and Kayla Jones in the final 30 seconds gave the Slicers the necessary breathing room to ensure the victory.
“We just had to regroup at halftime and talk about what was working and what wasn’t working,” Riley Ott said. “We came out and did what we needed to do. This was a great team win, and I’m so happy that we finally beat them. In past years, it was either close or a blowout, so this feels great.”
Walker also had plenty of praise for Boren, who debuted this season on the varsity and is making big contributions in the middle the way Janelle O’Neal previously did for the Slicers.
“Keatyn was just a JV player last year,” he said. “(Lake Central) Coach (Joe) Huppenthal said that she has to be our most improved player, and she is. She’s put some quality minutes in. She hit a big shot for us in the fourth quarter in our delay game. Her teammates believe in her, and she’s really proving herself.”
La Porte 49, Lake Central 44
In her first game back from a shoulder injury, the Slicers’ Riley Ott earned 18 points.