Slicers fend off late Panthers’ rally
La PORTE — Flashbacks to last year’s game. That’s what coach Tom Wells was having when his La Porte boys basketball team saw an 18-point lead cut to three a few times in the last two minutes on Friday night.
Last season against South Bend Washington, the Slicers squandered a 16-point advantage and ended up losing 60-53.
So Wells’ concerns were understandable.
Fortunately for Wells and La Porte, the Slicers hung on for a 60-55 home victory over the Panthers in both teams’ season opener.
“It’s funny how the two games mirrored each other,” Wells said. “And they won it. Trust me. I’ve watched that tape over, and over, and over since we knew they were going to be our opener.”
La Porte (1-0) was ahead 49-31 early in the fourth quarter and seemed safe.
But Washington (0-1) stormed back behind stout defense and Demarcus Vaughn’s 3-point shooting. That trimmed the margin to eight with just under four minutes left. Then, the lead shrunk to three with two minutes to go. Andy Samuelson answered with a layup. The Panthers got another basket to make it three again, though, and had a chance to tie it. But Vaughn’s tying 3-pointer missed and Ben Dermody got the rebound. He then made a pair of free throws to give the Slicers a 55-50 lead with 43.7 seconds remaining. Washington came down and missed another trey, and Dermody got the rebound and called timeout. Owen Strieter then made two freebies to make it a seven-point game with 23.9 seconds left.
“We did well on the boards, we kept them off the boards really well,” La Porte’s Trevor Perry said. “In the first half, we didn’t do well with pressure, but at the very end, we held onto it, and got fouled, and put us on the line.”
Garrott Ott-Large, a mere freshman, paced the Slicers with 15 points, including 5-for-9 from behind the arc. Dermody had 12 points.
“The kid can really shoot it, he can really shoot it,” Wells said of Ott-Large. “It’s not a freshman body either. He’s a great kid. He’s really smart and very coachable.
“Trevor Perry came in and gave us good minutes.”
Ott-Large was pivotal in the second quarter, when La Porte pulled away. After it was tied 13-13, it went on a 12-0 run to open a 25-13 lead. Jerry Fulton started the spurt with a driving layup and a basket as he was fouled. Later, Ott-Large drilled his second 3-pointer of the game, putting his team ahead 12 midway through the second.
After that, the advantage never dipped below double digits until late in the third. The Slicers outscored the Panthers 21-8 in the second period, and led 34-20 at half.
Cory McKinney led Washington with 19 points.
As a team, La Porte struggled at the charity stripe, going just 15-of-31.
“We talk to the kids about, ‘Calm energy,’” Wells said. “Shooting free throws isn’t something you can go up there kind of where you’re red lining almost a little bit. You’ve really got to slow things down.
“We’ve got a bunch of good shooters. I think we’re going to be fine.”
Wells added his team was playing with some injuries. Strieter is dealing with a knee injury. Wells said Strieter was only about 70 percent healthy and that’s why he didn’t start. He also added Nik Ormsby has two torn labrums and a groin injury.
"Thank god we have nine kids right now who can play," Wells said.
La Porte’s junior varsity won 53-32. Grant Seaburg and Marshawn Sherrod led the Slicers, both with 11 points. Carlos Jenkins scored nine.
La PORTE 60, SOUTH BEND WASHINGTON 55
SOUTH BEND WASHINGTON (55)
McKinney 9-14 1-1 19, Stuckey 1-3 1-3 3, Francoeur 0-5 0-0 0, Dockery 1-2 0-0 2, Walberg 1-2 2-2 5, XO’Neal 3-5 3-4 9, Wilson 2-3 2-2 6, Vaughn 3-8 0-0 9, Watts 0-4 2-2 2. Totals 20-46 11-14 55.
La PORTE (60)
Dermody 4-10 4-13 12, Samuelson 2-5 0-3 4, Haferkamp 0-0 0-0 0, Streiter 0-3 8-10 8, Ott-Large 5-10 0-0 15, Fulton 3-3 0-1 7, Perry 3-6 1-2 8, Ormsby 0-1 0-0 0, Cooper 2-4 2-2 6. Totals 19-42 15-31 60.
S.B. Washington`12`8`9`26`— 55
La Porte`13`21`10`16`— 60
3-point shooting — S.B. Washington 4-18 (McKinney 0-2, Stuckey 0-1, Francoeur 0-5, Walberg 1-2, Vaughn 3-8), La Porte 7-18 (Samuelson 0-2, Strieter 0-2, Ott-Large 5-9, Fulton 1-1, Perry 1-2, Ormsby 0-1, Cooper 0-1). Total fouls — S.B. Washington 24, La Porte 19. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — S.B. Washington 13, La Porte 17. Records — S.B. Washington 0-1, La Porte 1-0.