Crown Point's Abby Kvachkoff and Taylor Equihua grab the rebound away from Michigan City's Toni Murphy in the first quarter at Portage Tuesday evening. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Michigan City 56, CP 44
CROWN POINT (5-16) 8 - 6 - 13 - 17 == 44
MICHIGAN CITY (18-3) 8 - 10 - 20 - 18 == 56
2-5-13, Portage (4A) Sectional quarterfinal
CROWN POINT (44) Sarah Rivich 2-0-4, Katija Tarailo 3-4-10, Taylor Equihua 1-3-5, Abby Kvachkoff 1-0-2, Ashley Cunningham 1-0-2, Hannah Albrecht 7-5-19, Rachel Honaker 1-0-2, Miranda Elish 0-0-0, Katie Howarth 0-0-0. TOTALS: 16 (12-14) 44.
MICHIHAN CITY (56) Aubria Clifton 2-0-5, Keshyana Cooper 5-4-14, Jameka Collins 3-0-7, Toni Murphy 6-8-20, Michael Miller 2-2-7, Dejana Evans 1-1-3, Aubria Smith 0-0-0. TOTALS: 19 (15-28) 56.
FREE THROWS: CP (12-14, 85.7%) Albrecht 5-6, Tarailo 4-4, Equihua 3-4; MICHIGAN CITY (15-28, 53.5%) Murphy 8-12, Cooper 4-5, Miller 2-4, Evans 1-6, Collins 0-1.
3-GOALS: CP (0); MICHIGAN CITTY (3) Aubria Clifton, Michael Miller, Jameka Collins.
CROWN POINT Lady Bulldogs (5-16)
Coach: Anne Equihua (2nd year), 14-9 in 2012
Nov. 10 (L) 36-39 at Munster (5-16)
Nov. 13 (W)45-37 at Andrean (7-15)
Nov. 16 (L) 24-34 at PORTAGE (13-10)
Nov. 21 (L) 50-52 CHESTERTON (5-16)
Nov. 24 (W) 61-52 at East Chicago (12-11)
Nov. 27 (L) 28-44 Lowell (18-4)
Nov. 30 (L) 40-46 at LaPORTE (13-9)
Dec. 1 (L) 40-59 Carmel (11-11)
Dec. 7 (L) 35-46 LAKE CENTRAL (16-8)
Dec. 11 (W) 62-43 VALPARAISO (3-18)
Dec. 14 (L) 59-79 at MICHIGAN CITY (19-4)
Dec. 18 (L) 33-47 Hobart (18-6)
Dec. 21 (L) 52-59 MERRILLVILLE (22-1)
Jan. 4 (W) 56-45 at CHESTERTON (5-16)
Jan. 12 (L) 30-37 at LAKE CENTRAL (16-8)
Jan. 15 (L) 57-58 (OT) PORTAGE (13-10)
Jan. 18 (L) 54-69 MICHIGAN CITY (19-4)
Jan. 22 (L) 33-36 LaPORTE (13-9)
Jan. 25 (W) 51-38 at VALPARAISO (3-18)
Jan. 31 (L) 29-73 at MERRILLVILLE (22-1)
4A Portage Sectional
Feb. 5 (L) 44-56 Michigan City (19-4)
Updated: February 12, 2013 12:08PM
PORTAGE — There was no reason to believe after Crown Point’s 73-29 loss to Merrillville (20-1) on a Thursday that the Lady Bulldogs would come back to put up a fight against Michigan City (18-3) the next Tuesday.
But if it was the end of the season, and it was, as Michigan City won 56-44, Crown Point, a team with only two seniors, acquitted itself well for now and for the future.
Merrillville (22-1) won the sectional with a 65-60 win over Michigan City Saturday night. The Pirates face Lake Central in the Valparaiso Regional Saturday.
There was no great dramatic moment in the CP-Michigan City game. With seven seniors on the playoff roster, the Wolves played casually, as if the win would be easier than it turned out to be.
Crown Point, which had lost twice to the Wolves earlier in the season, fell significantly behind on an early third quarter run but was never out of the game in front of a snowy night small Tuesday crowd.
Neither team could dig up a lot of points in the second quarter and MC began the third period with an 18-14 lead.
Senior guard Toni Murphy, who scored 20 points, grabbed three consecutive offensive rebounds and scored in the first minute of the third quarter to up the edge to 20-14 and the Wolves ran out to a 30-20 lead.
“There wasn’t much of a message at all,” said MC coach Mike Megyese of the halftime break. “Block out (on rebounds). We weren’t blocking out at all. Be aggressive. We got a lot more looks. But how many free throws did we miss. Eleven. We’d been shooting 75-80 percent late in the season. We had a bad game. I never thought we were going to lose. I didn’t. We didn’t panic. Fortunately we’re moving on playing the game.”
Trailing 42-29 with 6:10 left, Crown Point (5-16) started to gain ground with three steals and an 8-1 run that cut the lead to 43-37 with 4:40 to play.
Murphy, one of four Michigan City senior starters, made two free throws and CP’s Abby Kvachkoff missed an open three-pointer. Aubria Clifton scored on an offensive rebound for a 47-37 lead. The final minutes were noteworthy because Hannah Albrecht, CP’s 5-foot-7 freshman guard, scored her teams last nine points.
“I thought we gave it all we had,” said CP coach Anne Equihua, ending her second season against the same team that ended her rookie year. “No one out there expects you to compete with them. That’s what we told them. Not only did we prove to ourselves but we proved to a lot of people that we could compete.
“I was proud of them ... we upped our intensity on defense. They rebound like crazy. (MC center Keshyana) Cooper is great. She’s got a very quick first step. I’m proud. They’re sad but they played hard. Our shots didn’t fall and we didn’t make enough shots to win.”
Senior Taylor Equihua and Sarah Rivich gave good efforts in their final game ever for CP.
But late in the game, even Michigan City’s eyes were on Albrecht, CP’s youngest starter, who was more of a passer than scorer all season.
Trailing in the final period, Albrecht played differently than she had during games all season. She finally looked hard for her scoring opportunities as time ran down in the elimination game, scoring 13 fourth quarter points.
Albrecht attacked dribble exchanges by MC and stole the ball.
Her unofficial totals were 19 points, six steals and three assists in what might have been her best game of the season.
Megyese could be seen talking to Albrecht after the game.
“I think she’s a great ballplayer,” Megyese relayed. “I asked her if she played anything else. She said volleyball. I said give it up. You’re a (basket)ball player. That kid is following in the footsteps of her older brothers. She was, in my opinion, the best player on the floor tonight.”
Coach Equihua said, “Hannah did a great job. She decided, ‘Hey, I’m no longer a freshman.’ She did a fantastic job.”
“She snapped,” said senior CP center Taylor Equihua of her youngest teammate. “I think she realized she had nothing to lose. That’s how she plays. That’s just Hannah.”
The younger Equihua scored five points and grabbed nine rebounds against Michigan City’s 6-foot Keshyana Cooper. Taylor was emotional in the end as this was also the final game she woud play for her mom, and with her cousin Abby Kvachkoff.
“I’ve always played for my mom,” she said. “Even when I was young in AAU. I played with (now graduated) Courtney and Abby (Kvackhoff) for my mom and my uncle. I didn’t understand why Courtney was so upset (after her final game last year). Now, I get it.
“I’m not sad at how we did. I’m sad that it’s over for me and Sarah. But I wouldn’t have traded my season for anything.”
SECTIONAL NOTES: CP’s loss to Michigan City was the third this season for Crown Point and the fourth in a row.
MC eliminated Crown Point 66-43 in the 4A Sectional championship game last season.
The CP record of 5-16 is mitigated by the fact that they were 0-5 against Michigan City and Merrillville, the two dominant teams in the Duneland Athletic Conference and in 4A Sectional 2.
The problem with that is that CP was 14-9 last season and 1-4 against Michigan City and Merrillville.
In the last five seasons under three different coaches (Anne Equihua, Mike Cronkhite and Scott Reid), Crown Point is 55-53 but 4-19 against Michigan City and Merrillville. The Wolves have won 17 of their last 18 meetings with CP.
The Lady Bulldogs have to find a way to overcome the speed advantage that Merrillville and Michigan City traditionally have over them.
Other than going back to the slow-paced half-court style of old coach Tom May against MC and Merrillville, the answer isn’t obvious.
CP junior Abby Kvachkoff was 1-of-13 from the field last Tuesday as she was clearly the target of the Michigan City defense.
“It was hard on Abby because they knew she has to score for us to win,” said coach Anne Equihua. “When that happens, other people have to step up.”
Michigan City’s Toni Murphy was 6-of-17 and Jameka Collins was 3-of-14. Keshyana Cooper had 14 points and 14 rebounds.
The Michigan City-Crown Point game was not great shooting on parade. The Wolves were an unofficial 19 of 55 (36.3 percent) from the field and 15 of 26 (57.6 percent) from the foul line.
The Lady Bulldogs were just 16 of 51 (31.3%) from the floor and 0-of-12 from three point range.