Girls basketball: Pirates go on cruise control in rout of Chesterton
By John O’Malley Post-Tribune correspondent January 22, 2013 11:16PM
Merrillville's Jaz Talley steals the ball from Chesterton's Kesley Conway in the first quarter at Merrillville High School Tuesday night. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 24, 2013 6:37AM
MERRILLVILLE — Dariyan Morris said she woke up Tuesday morning ready to play against Chesterton.
“I had a good night’s sleep, felt refreshed and well rested,’’ Merrillville’s senior guard said.
In fact, Morris, and the rest of her teammates, played an incredible first quarter. They scored the game’s first 25 points — Morris had 12 of the first 21 and made five of her eight steals — as the Pirates led by 23 after eight minutes.
The Pirates placed four players in double figures, led by Morris with 16. Victoria Gaines added 13, Jaz Talley had 11 and A.J. Downs scored 10.
While Merrillville (18-0, 12-0) eventually led by 31 points in the second period (41-10) and ended up cruising to a 69-52 Duneland Athletic Conference win over the Trojans (4-13, 2-10), the team took a major cat nap in the final 24 minutes.
“A basketball game is four quarters — not one quarter,’’ an upset Merrillville coach Amy Govert said. “In the first quarter, we played beautifully. We were patient, took good shots, shared the basketball and played good defense. We looked like a team that could make a run in the postseason. In the last three quarters, we played like a team that could make an early exit.’’
With talented Michigan City hosting the Pirates Friday night, Merrillville’s streak of 39 straight regular-season wins and 27 consecutive DAC victories will undoubtedly be on the line.
If the Pirates play against Michigan City the way they did in the final three quarters against Chesterton, Govert doesn’t see the streak continuing.
“Michigan City is the most talented team in the conference and they have been for the last three years,’’ Govert said. “We cannot afford to play (against them) like we did the last three quarters tonight and expect to win. They’re just too good. You cannot take breaks and have mental lapses.’’
Morris, who ended up with a team-high 16 points realizes her coach is right.
“We didn’t play the second half they way we could,’’ she said. “We know we can’t play like that on Friday night.’’
While the Pirates played like they were half asleep — particularly the second half — Chesterton never gave up.
The Trojans battled and battled. They hustled for every rebound and loose ball.
Junior guard Caroline Puntillo scored a game-high 22 points to lead the Trojans.
Puntillo, who scored only two points the first half, piled up 20 points — making 12 of 13 free throws -- in the last two quarters. Sarah Richards also finished in double figures for Chesterton with 10 points.
“Fortunately, we were able to force some turnovers on them the second half,’’ Chesterton coach Jack Campbell said. “Initially, we started out with a 1-3-1 zone. We tried to take away their dribble-penetration away, but they hit two or three (3-pointers) and we turned the ball over a lot and weren’t hitting shots.
“What are you going to do? I mean, they’re good and they really defend you well. Morris is a really good player with good speed and quickness.’’