Slicers skids over
ST. JOHN — Many basketball seasons have come and gone since La Porte’s boys basketball team defeated Lake Central in a Duneland Athletic Conference game, and even longer since the Slicers opened their conference season with a victory.
La Porte did both on Friday night on the road against the Indians, taking a three-point lead with three minutes left and extending it to double digits on its way to a satisfying 53-42 victory over Lake Central.
With the victory, the Slicers (7-4, 1-0 DAC) secured their first win over the Indians since capturing a 65-51 decision in the 2010-11 season. They would go on to lose a double overtime clash against Lake Central later that season, as well as two games in each of the next three seasons and one game each in the next four seasons.
But a new streak began Friday for La Porte, which opened with a win in the Duneland for the first time since the 2009-10 season, and was led by a game-high 17 points by senior forward Drake Gunn and 14 points from senior guard Jake Spence.
“I’m so proud of my team’s effort tonight,” Slicers coach Kyle Benge said. “We haven’t beat Lake Central since 2011, so my guys knew what was key tonight. You always want to get off to a 1-0 start in the conference season. We were 0-7 last year in the Duneland and we took our lumps in a lot of games and grew.
“We knew it was going to be a grind of a game because Lake Central is so well coached. We knew they wanted to keep us in the low 50s to mid 60s. We executed well, though we had a sluggish start. We were able to get those first-game conference jitters out of the way. I am proud of our resiliency.”
After a breakaway layup by Lake Central (4-7, 0-1 DAC) cut the La Porte’s lead to 45-42 with 3:05 left in regulation, the Slicers closed out the game with the final eight points. Spence drained a 3-pointer, Carson Crass sinked two free throws, and Garrott Ott-Large (nine points) tacked on a charity toss.
“Spence continues to hit big shot after big shot for us,” Benge said. “Garrott had a great floor game; he passed the ball well and played good defensively. Drake plays so hard; you can see how athletic he is.”
The scoring closed on an alley-oop dunk from Crass to Gunn with 53 seconds left to lift the team’s lead back to double digits.
“Carson just threw it up there, and I was able to finish it,” Gunn said of the dunk that brought his team’s bench and La Porte followers to life. “It all comes down to my teammates getting me the ball. We came together as a team down the stretch, and it was great to see.
“It really started in the summer for us; we all bonded and we played well together and have brought that over to the season.”
The victory also marked the Slicers’ fifth straight win since a close 61-57 setback against Lowell on Dec. 19, and will now look to improve to 2-0 in the conference when they host a very tough Chesterton team next Friday night.
“We know we have to clean up some things and get ready to play a very good Chesterton team,” Benge said. “It’s great when you can start the conference season 1-0.”
La Porte 53, Lake Central 42
Drake Gunn powered the Slicers with 17 points, and Jake Spence added 14 points.