A sluggish sixth in a row
MICHIGAN CITY — In most instances when a basketball team turns the ball over 28 times in a 32-minute contest, that team probably comes out on the short side of the scoreboard.
For Michigan City in its Duneland Athletic Conference matchup with a fiesty Merrillville bunch on Friday, it turned the ball over two shy of 30 times on the night, but won the game ... by 17 points.
“It’s just so hard to stop them. They’re so big,” Merrillville coach Amy Govert said with a bit of a laugh after her team’s 69-52 loss to the Wolves.
“You have to try and get turnovers in the full court. Because if you get into a half-court game with them, you’re dead.”
In the opening 16 minutes, Govert and her staff’s gameplan worked against the Wolves, forcing 15 turnovers and only trailing 34-30 at the intermission after the Wolves raced out to a 12-3 start in the game’s opening minutes.
One of the keys in Merrillville hanging around for much of the night was sophomore point guard Torri Miller, who not only was the Pirates’ leading scorer, but dished out seven assists and lead the visitors with six steals.
“Her improvement from last year to this year has been tremendous,” Govert said. “She’s got even more room to improve still. She could be an elite player in two years.”
It makes sense why Wolves coach Mike Megyese had Miller as the Pirates’ “most dangerous player” on his team’s scouting report this week.
“Boy, is she good,” Megyese said.
Still, even with Miller’s Herculean efforts on both ends, the lack of depth and minimal offensive execution doomed the Pirates (4-6, 2-2 DAC) in the latter portion of the contest.
“We executed our gameplan pretty well,” Govert said. “We got some turnovers early because that’s when you have to get them, especially because we were short two players tonight and our rotation was off. We got the turnovers, but we didn’t finish. We had about five or six where we didn’t even get a shot off.”
Despite the array of turnovers and a lack of execution by the Pirate offense, the Wolves racked up 22 turnovers themselves on the defensive end, registering 13 steals and outrebounded the Pirates, 46-17.
Fourteen of those 46 City rebounds came from Janicia Anderson alone.
“Merrillville’s an improved team,” Megyese said. “That was their only game this week. I’ll take a little stock in that. Three games in four days and we come out with a 17-point win in conference play, I’ll take that. That’s not a team I wanna see in sectional play either.”
With the Wolves (9-3, 4-0 DAC) hounded the boards as they usually do with their size across the front lines, Xavier signee Hannah Noveroske dominated when the Wolves were able to use Trinity Thompson as a press-breaker in the second half to calm things down. Noveroske finished with a game-high 28 points and nine rebounds, but it was the play of Thompson elsewhere that helped the Wolves steady a rocky ship in the early going and cruise late. “No disrespect to Merrillville at all because they played great, but a lot of those turnovers were self-inflicted by us,” Megyese said. “We gotta do a better job taking care of the basketball and that was pretty clear tonight, even in a 17-point win.”
Thompson took just four shots, but gathered 10 rebounds, dished out a team-high five assists, stole the ball three times and swatted away a shot in an all-around performance. “In the second half, you could see how different of a team we were with Trinity on the floor because of the foul trouble early,” Megyese said. “She was great breaking their press, banging on the boards ... she’s just a great player. Katelyn Halfacre was great, too, with Miller ... you got two sophomore guards going at it.”
With their sixth consecutive win in the books, the Wolves look ahead to a matchup in South Bend against Riley today, a rescheduled game against Gary Lighthouse on Tuesday and a trip to Highland on Dec. 29 before a first-place road showdown with 13-0 Crown Point on Jan. 4.
“We got some things we need to clean up before our holiday break and we know that,” Megyese said. “We don’t wanna look too far ahead, but (Crown Point)’s the game we got circled.”
Reach Michael Whitlow at email@example.com or (219) 214-4169. Follow him on Twitter @couldbelikemike.