Boys basketball: Lake Central turns up the pressure in win against Portage
ST. JOHN — Portage coach Rick Snodgrass felt he had a good plan.
Lake Central center Tyler Wideman and the Indians’ intense defense made the best-laid plans go awry.
With Wideman scoring 15 of his game-high 17 points in the first half against Portage’s 2-3 zone, the blue Indians (10-5, 8-3) rebounded from an early deficit for a 57-41 Duneland Athletic Conference win over the red Indians (9-10, 2-9) Friday night.
“I was just trying to get the game off on a right note and get the lead up,’’ said Wideman, who was Mr. Efficiency, making seven of the eight shots he attempted in the first half to help LC build a 28-21 halftime lead. “I just tried to take the shots that were there and look for my teammates.’’
Portage was within a single point late in the first half when LC coach Dave Milausnic called a timeout.
“Our defense started to pick up second quarter,’’ Wideman said. “Coach told us to keep our focus and to keep pushing. He said to keep our intensity and not let up.’’
Milausnic’s players listened well. They closed the first half with a flurry, while stifling Portage with their physical defense.
When the third quarter started, it was more of the same — only the blue Indians’ defense was even better — smothering Portage’s every move.
Lake Central made 70 percent of its shots in the second quarter (7 of 10) and converted the exact same number of attempts in the third period, while outscoring Portage, 18-3, to take a 46-24 lead into the final quarter.
“In the third quarter, (Lake Central) flat got after it on defense,’’ Snodgrass said. “They just really wore us down. It was just that physical. I think it was the first time all season — with the exception of Valparaiso — that a team played us that physical on defense.
“I think that’s the best half of defense Lake Central has played since I’ve been here (six years). If they continue to play defense like that, they will be extremely tough to beat.’’
Milausnic had to be pleased with his team’s defensive effort, especially in the second half when it held Portage to 35 percent shooting.
Even though the blue Indians have a tough test on the road at Indianapolis Cathedral on Saturday, Milausnic likes the way his team is playing with a month to go before the postseason begins.
“The important thing is that we continue to get better week-to-week and keep improving,’’ he said. “We want to be playing our best and be ready for the sectional.’’
Portage played was forced to play shorthanded Friday night as junior Gage Pearman injured a knee in practice.
The red Indians could have used him inside to help try and contain Wideman.
“In practice Wednesday, he pivoted and felt something go,’’ Snodgrass said. “We don’t know anything for sure yet, but I think it’s enough of of an injury where he probably won’t be back the rest of the season. It really hurt our depth not having him tonight.’’
Peter Psomadelis came off the bench to lead Portage with 10 points — hitting a 60-foot 3-pointer as time expired to reach double figures.
“I thought the first half we played really well tonight,’’ Snodgrass said. “It was our fifth game in a row on the road and that’s tough. I’m disappointed in that I wanted the kids to win, but I’m not disappointed in our effort and I’m happy with the way we played.’’