Girls basketball: Wolves end Pirates’ streak at 39
By Dave Melton Post-Tribune correspondent January 25, 2013 10:38PM
Merrillville's Victoria Gaines looks to the basket with Michigan City's Keshyana Cooper guarding in the fourth quarter at Michigan City High School Friday night. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 27, 2013 6:18AM
MICHIGAN CITY — They did it again.
For the second straight year, Michigan City handed Merrillville its first loss of the season — a thrilling 60-57 game in the Wolves’ Den. The loss snapped a 39-game regular-season win streak for the Pirates (18-1 12-1 DAC), dating back to the 2010-11 season.
A shot at the DAC crown may still be out of reach, but Michigan City (16-3, 11-2 DAC) head coach Mike Megyese said his eye was on the postseason.
“I’ve said it before: I couldn’t care less about the DAC. Sectionals are what I care about,” he said.
It was in the second round of sectionals last year when Michigan City ended Merrillville’s perfect 20-0 season with a 70-56 defeat.
“They do, too,” Megyese said. “They’re not going to walk away mad from this game. These were the two best DAC teams going into battle tonight. But we got it done and stayed unbeaten on our home floor this year.”
Trailing 54-47 in the fourth quarter, Michigan City clawed back to a 57-56 deficit in the final minute. After Merrillville’s Victoria Gaines missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Toni Murphy stepped to the line at the other end of the court with 17.6 seconds left. She hit both free throws, putting the Wolves ahead 58-57.
AJ Downs lost the ball out of bounds on Merrillville’s next possession. Murphy was back at the line a few seconds later, hitting two more crucial free throws for the final points of the game.
“She’s just a big-time player,” Megyese said. “She struggled a bit with her shot early on. We told them to put the ball in her hands and let her win the game. And she did.”
That last turnover was one of nine Merrillville committed in the fourth quarter and one of 32 it committed in the game.
“This has happened before,” said Merrillville coach Amy Govert. “They’ll finally realize that we can’t do this. We had poor shot selection and committed turnovers when no one was around us. We were up by nine (in the fourth quarter) and we gave the game away.”
After 12 turnovers in the first quarter, the Pirates trailed Michigan City 14-7. For the next two quarters, Merrillville’s Dariyan Morris took over. The 5-foot-3 senior guard scored 25 points and pulled down seven rebounds, as Merrillville stormed back to take a 49-40 lead by the end of the third quarter. Morris finished with a game-high 29 points and 12 rebounds, while going 12-for-15 from the line.