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Girls Basketball: Hobart, Merrillville shoot down upset bids

Hobart's Daley Law Valparaiso's KristinVeljovic go after rebound third quarter Portage sectional Wednesday evening. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

Hobart's Daley Law and Valparaiso's Kristina Veljovic go after the rebound in the third quarter at the Portage sectional Wednesday evening. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 8, 2013 7:51AM



PORTAGE — Conventional wisdom says that there should be no question who plays in the Portage Sectional. But for the sake of argument, who would be the team that could be the spoiler in the expected Merrillville vs. Michigan City title game matchup?

The smart answer could be 17-6 Hobart, which won its sectional first-round duel against Valparaiso as expected Wednesday. But the Brickies’ 47-40 win was hardly a replica of the 41-point blowout over the Vikings last week.

In the nightcap, Merrillville beat Portage for the third time this season, scratching out a 54-44 win after beating the Indians twice in the regular season by 22 and 13 points.

The best way to describe the opening matchup? Valparaiso (3-18) showed grace under pressure in its second-half comeback, but could not overcome Hobart’s winning with no Grayce at all.

Hobart played without leading scorer Grayce Roach, who suffered a broken hand in the Brickies’ win over Chesterton, but still held a 27-16 halftime lead, thanks to 11 first-half points by Kara Cooke.

The Vikings fought back though, thanks to four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, two by Grace Withrow (15 points) to close to within 41-38 late in the fourth quarter, but Valparaiso missed four 3-point chances that could have tied the game.

“We knew from the beginning that they were going to come out strong and they weren’t going to mess around tonight,” said Cooke, who finished with 13. “I think we may have been a little overconfident in the first half.”

The almost-upset momentum continued in Game 2, with Portage getting 22 points combined from Nikki Monahan and Alexis Johnson to trail 30-26 at the half. The Indians had a chance to do even more damage when the Pirates’ Victoria Gaines had to sit after picking up her third foul early in the third quarter.

But Dariyan Morris’ 16 points, including four 3-pointers, helped the Pirates (20-1) move on to a duel with Hobart. The Pirates beat Hobart 68-51 Jan. 15.

Gaines and Darian Patton added 10 for the Pirates.

Monahan finished her Portage career as the all-time leading scorer, closing out her career with a 22-point effort.

Johnson closed with 14 for the Indians (13-10).



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