Highs and lows
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — Between leading scorer Katie Bell getting into early foul trouble and his team scoring just three points in the opening eight minutes of play Friday night against Washington Township, LaCrosse coach Chris McGowen was more than pressed on finding some answers to his team’s early struggles in their eventual 44-34 Porter County Conference victory over the Senators.
″(Bell’s) averaging about 16 points a game for us and close to 14 rebounds a game and she wasn’t anywhere near that tonight,” McGowen said. “But what we talked about in the locker room after the game is that our stud struggled tonight and was in foul trouble, but that’s why it’s a team. Everybody else stepped for us.”
Despite his 5-foot-10 junior bucket-getter being pinned to the bench for much of the half and the night overall, reinforcements arrived after a frustrated McGowen took a timeout with 5:34 left in the first half when his team trailed 12-7 following back-to-back triples from Senator guards Olivia Klinger and Jillian Burton.
“Coming into the game, we knew that Olivia was a special player for them and we knew we couldn’t allow her to be the one that beat us,” McGowen said. “At the end of the first quarter, she hit that 3 from about 30 feet out and I told the girls on the bench, ‘Hey, that’s probably going to get her going, so we gotta know where she’s at.’”
Klinger finished with a game-high 17 points. After her second-quarter triple, she made just three field goals in her final eight attempts after outscoring the Tigers (9-7, 2-2 PCC) 6-3 in the opening period by herself with her team shooting just 1-for-11 in the first two quarters.
While the Senators and their main offensive weapon cooled off, the Tigers caught fire, outscoring the Senators (4-11, 0-6 PCC) 10-3 in the final 5:34 of the half to take a 17-15 advantage into the locker room.
Claire Garwood and Morgan Wozniak combined for 11 of the 14 points in the frame for the Tigers, with Garwood splashing home a couple 3-pointers to get her going after missing her first four shots.
“When I missed my first couple of shots, I was feeling kinda down,” Garwood said. “But those shots in the second got me going and the team going late in the half.”
Garwood added six more points in the third quarter where the Tigers seized control with a 19-7 stanza to take a 14-point lead into the final eight minutes, sparked by back-to-back Wozniak triples in the quarter’s opening minute or so,
With Garwood and Wozniak dropping bombs, Mya Morrow kept the ship steady as the lead guard for the Tigers with a 3 of her own in the third to go along with her six assists, three rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
In the boys game, LaCrosse almost had as many turnovers (four) as Washington Township senior guard Colin Burton had points (five) in the game’s opening three minutes, falling behind 7-0 and eventually falling for the second time in conference play in a 63-51 loss.
Hayden McDougal dominated with 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Kaleb Frazier provided 16 more points, but the Senators (7-2, 3-0 PCC) were too much down the stretch of what was relatively a close game for much of the evening.
“We just turned the ball over way too much,” Tigers coach Preston Frame said. “With as much as we turned the ball over in the first half (10 times), I was ectastic that we had the lead at halftime. ...What we talked about in the locker room was continuing to score the ball, rebound the ball and take care of the ball, and we’ll be right where we wanna be. Unfortunately, we turned it over more than we wanted to.”
Despite the sluggish start, the Tigers (3-6, 2-2 PCC) woke up quickly, scoring 17 of the quarter’s final 29 points to trail by just two after one. Neither team found a rhythm in the second period, combining for just 16 points on five field goals, but the Tigers had the lead at 27-25.
The action picked back up in the third with a faster pace, but the Tigers fell behind 40-36 after three thanks to seven of their 22 turnovers coming in the quarter.
The Tigers had a crease, down 42-38 with 6:08 to play, but in the next three minutes, the Senators took the lead out to 14 with their quickness defensively and calmness in the half-court offensively, taking good shot attempt after good shot attempt. Austin Darnell’s right corner triple just inside of three minutes to play proved to be the dagger.
“They’re so hard to scout,” Frame said. “Scott (Bowersock) is such a great coach. They are so disciplined and so schooled in what they want to do. It’s hard to prepare for everything that they want to do. They’re a really well-coached team.”
Reach Michael Whitlow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 214-4169. Follow him on Twitter @couldbelikemike.
Girls: LaCrosse 44, Washington Township 34
Boys: Washington Township 63, LaCrosse 51
Claire Garwood led the Tigers girls with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Hayden McDougal paced the boys with 17 points and 14 rebounds.