Girls basketball: Shorthanded Merrillville holds off Portage
By Tommy Williams Post-Tribune correspondent January 5, 2013 10:30PM
Updated: February 7, 2013 6:51AM
PORTAGE — Ask any team in any sport about how tough it is to stay unbeaten and they will tell you stories about how many speed bumps got in the way on the road to perfection. Merrillville will have a few stories to tell, too, although their adversity may have hit a whole new level the past two weeks.
“I am so proud of the way the girls played tonight,” said Merrillville coach Amy Govert after her Pirates defeated Portage 56-43 on Saturday night.
“We had one girl injured in a car accident and another break her thumb in the last two weeks. These girls mean the world to me and I care about them off the court as well as on. Anything we do on the court is a plus.”
While the recent off-the-court results have been a challenge to the Pirates, they still are perfect on it after the DAC road win, but even that wasn’t exactly the walk in the park Merrillville had when they beat the Indians by 22 points in late November.
Portage guard Nicki Monahan saw to that. She had 32 points for the Indians (9-6, 4-4 DAC), including four 3-pointers. Her late second-quarter trey made her the fourth Portage player to score more than 1,000 career points.
“Her biggest asset is her work ethic,” said Portage coach Chris Seibert. “She puts countless time in the gym and has become a multifaced scorer.”
Monahan’s 15 first half points kept the Indians in the hunt, trailing 24-23 at the half. But a strong third quarter run by the Pirates (13-0, 9-0), led by Dariann Morris’ 13 points in the period and some strong defense turned the game Merrillville’s way.
“They turned up the pressure on their press and forced us into turnovers,” Seibert said. “You have to give them credit for coming out and playing good defense.”
How good was the Pirates’ defense in the second half? Merrillville held Monahan’s teammates to only three points in the final 16 minutes.
“We had only six varsity players on the roster tonight, but we fought through it,” Govert said. “And (senior guard) Anjelica Peppers gave us good minutes tonight.”
Victoria Gaines had a team-high 19 points for the Pirates, while Morris added 15.