VALPARAISO | One point, three fouls.
Keenan Simmons' stats through three quarters of Tuesday's Class 4A Valparaiso Sectional quarterfinal seemed to be good news for Crown Point.
Supercharged by the play of its non-starters, Michigan City stormed to a 15-point lead with next to nothing from their star over the first 24 minutes and coasted to an impressive 82-71 victory.
"We expect guys to show up," M.C. coach John Boyd said. "We know what's in our own gym. I don't coach one kid. Everybody would like to have Keenan. We prepare them for a situation where he might be unavailable for any reason. I'd like to say our entire team is a force that can be counted on to come in and perform. It was a total team effort."
Boy, did they ever. The guard trio of Lucas Daurer, Brad Pawloski and Michael Miller combined to score 43 of the whopping 56 points posted by Michigan City's bench. No starter reached double figures with Simmons and Donovan Wilson both notching nine.
"We believe in each other. We're not scared to do anything," said Daurer, who had 16 points and five assists, two of his dimes coming on alley-oop lobs to Simmons. "That's the advantage of everyone being able to score and pass. That's the way we practice. You've got to be confident. We're ready for anything."
City (13-8) took the lead for good on a pair of first-quarter treys by Pawloski. He hit four deep balls on his way to 14 points. Miller scored nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, including seven at the line.
"Our guard play was a lot better," Boyd said. "We handled the ball well. We shared the ball a lot better. We protected the ball a lot better. We moved it around well. Our guards were really confident, which is what we needed to beat a team like that. We made an effort to be sure to attack the basket. We knew they'd have to collapse and we could kick it out to our shooters."
The Wolves gradually pushed the margin to double figures in the third quarter, when it had eight players score. Shayne Barron joined the fun with a pair of triples.
"We were able to get Simmons in foul trouble, but we couldn't make any hay when he was out," Bulldogs coach Clint Swan said. "We wanted to try to string some stops together, but we couldn't get any stops. I thought Bret Barclay did a tremendous job on Simmons. It was their other guys. We couldn't stop anyone else. They're pulling their seven, eight, nine guys and they're hitting 3s. They're a tough match-up for us. They're a deep team. They really took it to us."
Crown Point (12-9) knocked down five treys in the fourth quarter, three by Josh Berquist (17 points) and two by Blake Bonin. It whittled the deficit to seven at 67-60, but it had no answers at the other end.
"Offense was not the problem," Swan said.
Nick Jeffirs matched Berquist with 17 points. Barclay added a dozen and Grant Gelon 11.
The Bulldogs shot 52 percent, but City hit at a 59 percent clip. Take Simmons' 4-of-12 night out of the mix and it was an eye-popping 67 percent.
"Bench is a prevailing term in the sport because you can only put five guys out there," Boyd said. "We've got a guy (Simmons) who's kept us in a lot of games. It just takes some time for young guys to get the confidence to go out and perform. That's why you play the regular season."
In the opener, Portage was money at the foul line, connecting on 21 of 26 foul shots to fend off a Hobart rally and advance with a 64-57 victory.
"We've been working toward that the whole season," said Portage's Luke Kizer, whose game-high 21 points included an 8-of-8 effort from the stripe. "It was a good time to do it. Knocking down free throws was the whole game. That's what wins games."
Portage (13-9) needed just about everyone as Hobart went to a scrambling 1-3-1 press that helped the Brickies (10-12) erase much of an 18-point third-quarter deficit.
"This game was a perfect example of our season," Hobart coach Mike Black said. "The first half, we had trouble figuring things out and the second half was more of the type of team we're capable of being."
Hobart drew within six three times in the fourth quarter and five with 17 seconds left, but Jordan Collazo swished all six of his free throws in the last two minutes for Portage. He was 11 of 11 overall.
"Free throws are why we won," Portage coach Rick Snodgrass said. "It's not about style points. Hobart had a great game plan. They've got some athletes. They are so much improved. That's not the same team from the start of the year."
Portage drubbed Hobart 77-31 early in the season and seemed on its way to another easy win in the first half. With Collazo sidelined by fouls, Kizer and Michael Lattanzi took over, scoring 27 points between them.
"We penetrated their zone and were able to get to the basket," Kizer said. "We were setting good screens. Coach told us, when we set a screen, wait until they screen for you, and it worked."
Lattanzi backed Kizer with 16 points and seven rebounds. Collazo notched with just one basket.
"I thought Timmy Bryant and De'Juan Nelson did a nice job off the bench," Snodgrass said. "Jordan hardly played in the first half. I feel like we've got good depth."
Hobart was led by Juan Lamar's 19 points and seven boards. Monte White had 12 points and four steals.
"We tried to make them beat us at the line and they did," Black said. "Are we 39 points better than we were (the last time)? I don't know, but we've certainly come a long way."