Runnin’ on empty
PORTER TOWNSHIP — Play hard.
When nothing else is working in a basketball game, effort remains a constant.
LaCrosse coach Chris McGowen used Kaitlyn Cherry as a shining example of that hoops axiom after the spirited Hebron point guard spurred the Hawks to a 53-33 victory over the Tigers in the opening game of the Porer County Conference girls basketball tournament Monday at Boone Grove.
“She’s a special player,” McGowen said. “She took over. She has that extra gear that we haven’t quite found yet. We talked about how we need to become as tough as Hebron, how Cherry goes hard all the time. You could tell she was a little gimpy, but from the time the ball is tipped, she goes 225 percent. There’s no flipping of the switch. That’s where we’ve got to get. We’ll get there.”
Cherry, who is closing in on 1,000 points in her career, dominated the second half with 14 points and four steals, shaking off a 1-of-6 first half to break open a 21-16 game.
“Our defense wasn’t what it needed to be in order to come back from the five points we were down,” said Claire Garwood, who posted 13 points and seven rebounds for the Tigers. “I feel like we kind of gave up in the second half.”
Garwood’s eight points, including two of her three 3s, in a span of under five minutes pushed LaCrosse in front 14-11 in the second quarter, but Hebron closed the half on a 10-2 surge and made runs of five and seven in the third quarter to begin to separate.
“After our performance against Morgan Township, this was the last thing I expected,” McGowen said of a 57-52 loss to the conference co-leading Cherokees. “As well as we played Friday, that’s how bad we played tonight. I don’t feel like we were getting down. We were positive in the huddle. We just didn’t knock down shots. I don’t know how many wide open looks we had, especially beyond the arc. It comes down to us not being able to put the ball in the basket consistently. That’s basketball. Sometimes, they go in, sometimes, they don’t.”
LaCrosse (10-9) shot a chilly 13-of-48 in all, connecting on just three of 18 treys.
“It’s kind of hard,” Garwood said. “The team needs to get to a point where we don’t worry about that missed shot, we go right back down on defense and come back and make the next one. It’ll definitely help when we get into practice and start going at each other a lot more.”
Katie Bell posted 12 points and nine rebounds, notching all six of LaCrosse’s points in the first quarter. Mya Morrow had four assists.
Allison Hano (10 points, 13 rebounds) and Kyra Stater (nine boards) controlled the glass for Hebron (14-6). Haley Rokosz added three 3s.
“The Stater girl’s a force to be reckoned with,” McGowen said. “Hano was just an Energizer bunny on the glass. We knew one of the keys to the game was keeping them off the glass. There were stretches when we did a very good job, we just weren’t consistent. They had 30 shot attempts in the first half to our 18. You’re not going to win games that way.”
Boone Grove topped Washington Township 41-32 in the second game. The Wolves and Hawks will meet in Friday’s first semifinal.
Porter County Conference Tournament
Hebron 53, LaCrosse 33
Claire Garwood led the Tigers with 13 points.