Battling uphill

November 24, 2018

La PORTE — After sharing the Duneland Athletic Conference crown last year with Lake Central, La Porte knew it was going to get every DAC team’s best shot this season.

Undefeated Crown Point proved that Friday night.

The Bulldogs started fast, and played with great intensity all night, never trailing to knock off the Slicers 71-64 in both girls basketball teams’ conference opener at Slicer Gym.

“Falling behind eight to a really good team, you can’t dig yourself a hole,” La Porte coach Rob Walker said. “We talked about that.

“We went in the locker room and I couldn’t yell at them. We couldn’t get on them much because they played their tails off. We just got beat by a better team tonight. We’d love to be able to run into them again.”

Crown Point (7-0, 1-0 DAC) built as much of a nine-point, first-quarter lead, got 27 huge points by freshman guard Jessica Carrothers in the game, and held off a surge by the Slicers (4-2, 0-1 DAC) in the fourth.

La Porte trailed 57-50 midway through the fourth, but clawed back. Riley Ott tallied five straight points, and Kayla Jones’ backcourt steal and assist to Ryin Ott for a layup pulled the Slicers within 60-57 with 1:52 left. The Bulldogs responded with Alyna Santiago’s breakaway layup off the ensuing inbounds’ pass to make it five again. Later, La Porte again cut the margin to three, however, Carrothers iced the contest from the charity stripe to cap off her gigantic game, including 14 points in the fourth.

“We were keying in on her,” Walker said. “And for her to have 27 points as a freshman, (Notre Dame women’s head coach) Muffet McGraw better get over here pretty soon because she played like she could play for Notre Dame today.”

At the outset, Crown Point took control, using an aggressive full-court press to build a 7-0 lead. The visitors went ahead as many as nine in the opening quarter, and held a 19-11 advantage after the first, due in large part to forcing turnovers.

The Slicers rallied, however, and eventually trimmed the deficit to two, 31-29, with just over a minute left before the break. Jones provided the spark offensively, nailing three 3-pointers in the second period to help her team stay close. Carrothers had an answer every time the home team seemed poised to tie it. At half, the Bulldogs were ahead 38-32.

In the third, La Porte again fell behind nine, although it battled back to cut the margin to four heading to the last quarter, 52-48.

That’s when Carrothers and her teammates were just a little too tough for the Slicers.

Riley Ott paced La Porte with 23 points, six rebounds and three assists, and her younger sister, Ryin Ott, also made a major impact. Jones finished with 13 points.

“Ryin had 18 points and 18 rebounds, so she had a huge game,” Walker said. “Riley got off to a slow start, but really was going full-steam ahead from the second quarter on. You’ve got to give credit to Crown Point, having a real good game plan and getting that big DAC win.”

Jones added five assists, and Keatyn Boren grabbed five boards.

“Kayla Jones really hit those big threes and she had some nice assists,” Walker said. “Riley Ott at the end of the game did some really nice stuff.”

Besides Carrothers, C.P’s Ellie VanDeel scored 12, while Santiago chipped in 10 points.

La Porte’s junior varsity dropped a 41-26 game. Lauren Pollock led the Slicers with eight points, and Natalie Theim and Danielle Krontz both had four points.

Crown Point 71, La Porte 64

Riley Ott notched 23 points and Ryin Ott had 18 points and corralled 18 rebounds for the Slicers.

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