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Girls basketball: Strong finish helps Merrillville get past pesky Lake Central

Updated: January 17, 2013 6:51AM



ST. JOHN — Lake Central had Merrillville right where it wanted the Pirates in the first 24 minutes — on the ropes.

The Indians (6-4, 4-2) trailed the state’s fifth-ranked team by one point entering the final period, but couldn’t take control and perhaps pull off a huge upset.

Merrillville (9-0, 6-0) scored eight points in the first 1:07 of the fourth quarter to open up a nine-point lead and went on to a 53-42 win over the pesky Indians a Duneland Athletic Conference matchup Saturday night.

Dariyan Morris scored 10 of her game-high 19 points in the first quarter and came up with six steals to lead Merrillville to its 21st straight league win.

“She had a big game,’’ Pirates’ coach Amy Govert said. “She was very active with her hands. Dariyan came ready to play. She goes strong to the basket and finishes well.’’

“It’s just my instincts to be in the passing lanes,’’ Morris said.

“It’s something I’ve been taught to do. I just wanted to come out and show up tonight. It feels great to win.’’

Victoria Gaines, who didn’t start and sat out the first quarter with a gimpy right ankle suffered in the Pirates’ upset win over Michigan City Tuesday night, had eight points and eight rebounds. Jaz Talley and A.J. Downs also had eight points each for Merrillville.

“Lake Central is a good team and this is a very difficult place to play,’’ Govert said. “I was really worried coming in here tonight about us not matching the energy they had the other night. Give Lake Central credit, though. They played hard and they did what they had to do.’’

Lake Central trailed 29-20 at halftime after a rebound bucket by Darian Patton beat the buzzer.

Coach Marc Urban’s team outscored the Pirates 10-2 in the third period to pull within 31-30, but Merrillville opened the fourth with an 8-0 run to build a nine-point cushion and LC never got closer than five points (44-39) again.

“I was extremely proud of our girls’ effort tonight,’’ Urban said.

“Collectively, everybody was working together and on the same page. We had the fifth-best team in the state on the ropes and we still have a chance to get better.

“We’re getting close. I was happy with how we competed. There were a lot of mistakes, but they’re all correctable.’’

Gina Rubino and Tara Zlotkowski led LC with nine points each.



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