Boys basketball: Valparaiso struggles, but finally shakes off Portage
By Mike Hutton 648-3139 or firstname.lastname@example.org February 27, 2013 10:04PM
Updated: April 1, 2013 12:11PM
MICHIGAN CITY — As long as you’re on the victory train at this point, it doesn’t matter in what fashion the game was won.
That was more or less Valparaiso coach Joe Otis’ line after the Vikings survived Portage 51-37 Wednesday in the first round of the Michigan City Sectional.
Valparaiso plays Chesterton at 6 p.m. Friday in the semifinal round after the Trojans whipped LaPorte 70-50 in the night cap.
The gritty Indians had their collective arms wrapped around the ankles of the Vikings for the better part of three quarters before Valparaiso pulled away with a late surge.
A three-point play the old fashioned way by Luke Kizer with 4:48 left summed up the frustration for the Vikings: Otis exploded on the bench at the official because he thought the basket should not have been counted and then Kizer made the free throw to pull the Indians to within two points at 33-31.
That sequence of events seemed to ignite the Vikings, who didn’t play with much conviction offensively in the first half.
Tyler Doane came right back and hit a 3-pointer that started a 13-0 run. The irritation boiled over in a constructive way for Valparaiso, which never looked back. John Mosser, who struggled in the first half offensively, finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Doane’s immediate answer three was huge for the Vikings.
Otis will gladly take the win.
“I’ve been in 25 sectionals in this gym,” he said. “I don’t care if they’re pretty or ugly or whatever. We’re moving on and that’s what you want.”
The first half was close, with the Vikings leading most of the way but not by much.
The Vikings took an 8-3 lead after Doane made a basket with 2:30 left in the first quarter. A 3-pointer by Jordan Simpson pulled the Indians to within four points (10-6) at the end of the quarter.
Valparaiso pulled ahead 16-10 in the second quarter when the Vikings made their only 3-pointer of the half — a bomb from the corner by Justin Osburn.
The Indians pulled to within three when Jordan Collazo hit one from the top of the key with time running out in the half.
In the second game, Chesterton opened the second half with a 19-0 run. That was pretty much the game for LaPorte, which was able to play with the Trojans for about the first 12 minutes.
LaPorte didn’t break the drought until Josh Fleming scored with 1:32 left in the third quarter.
By then, Chesterton had already built a 30-point lead.
Chris Palombizio led the Trojans with 19 points while Corey Rusboldt pitched in with 10. Chesterton coach Tom Peller was able to substitute freely in the half with the large lead.
The Trojans, who have lost twice to Valparaiso, would like to break the drought.
“They’re a sound team fundamentally,” Peller said. “We just can’t beat ourselves. I think sometimes we get too jacked up when we play them. We know we can do this if we play smart.”