Boys basketball: LaPorte tops Michigan City for DAC east title
By Brandon Vickrey Post-Tribune correspondent December 28, 2013 11:04PM
Michigan City's Dominique Jones tries to finish off a fast break attempt before LaPorte's Gage Ott can block his shot Saturday night during the DAC East Tournament Championhip game. Dan Shetlon/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 30, 2014 7:00AM
MICHIGAN CITY — A much anticipated, long-awaited day finally arrived for LaPorte’s senior class. All six seniors finally were able to play together as Gage Ott and Miles Browder returned from 10-game suspensions that dated back to the final two games of 2012-2013.
It was worth the wait as the full-strength Slicers dispatched Michigan City 68-58 in the championship game of the Duneland Athletic Conference east holiday tournament.
LaPorte (7-2) has already surpassed its five-win total from last season and has now won six straight for the first time since the 2003-2004 season.
“This group of seniors has been waiting for so long to play together and have some success,” LaPorte coach Tom Wells said. “We’ve been through some lean years where wins were hard to come by, but these guys never shortchanged me.”
Ott turned in 13 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter. He was in foul trouble throughout the game, but made the most of his limited minutes. Although Ott was happy to see his teammates play well through the first eight games of the season, it was agonizing for him to watch from the bench.
“It was awful, man,” he said. “I was shaking every game; I was just ready to play. It felt amazing to get back out there.”
Ott said limiting his fouls and improving his conditioning will be keys for him to fully shake off his rust.
“I need to run up and down the court more by myself,” he said. “I actually threw up tonight; I just got sick from running up and down the court.”
Wells did not hesitate to insert Ott and Browder back into the starting lineup immediately after the suspension was lifted.
“We’ve got some very strict rules,” Wells said. “We have very high expectations for our student athletes and the punishment was served.”
Josh Fleming, who led the Slicers with 20 points, was surprised by how quickly he was able to find continuity with Ott and Browder, who did not practice with the starters during their suspensions.
LaPorte 3-point specialist Jacob Jones nailed two triples in the fourth quarter and finished with a total of seven 3-pointers in the tournament.
“I know it’s December, but there are a lot of reasons to believe that we can use this as a springboard,” Wells said. “We have some pieces to our puzzle where we’re not going to be an easy out.”