LAPORTE | Several years ago, before coming to Valparaiso, Joe Otis coached seventh-grade girls basketball at LaPorte, guiding the team to a 12-3 record.
"I was the winningest coach in the corporation," Otis said.
Friday at Slicer Gym, Otis got a first-hand look from the other side at how far LaPorte has come since then as his Vikings were throttled 72-38 in a Duneland Athletic Conference game.
"There are three great teams in the conference and we're not one of them," Otis said. "Lake Central, Merrillville and these guys. They have so many weapons. They've got four or five really good 3-point shooters. They've got eight to 10 hard-working kids who know their capabilities and complement each other."
LaPorte (5-0, 2-0), off to its best start in over 20 years, forced 23 turnovers, 17 of them steals, which led to bushel of fast-break layups. It also hit 11 3s, eight of them in the second half, shot 50 percent from the arc and 54 percent overall.
"We've got a really diverse team," said Delanie Alcorn, whose 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting included four treys. "We have a bunch of skilled players. Everyone can make plays. And we play good defense, which leads to easy points in transition."
Up 11-6 after eight minutes, the Slicers blitzed Valpo 23-5 in the second quarter. Seven players scored in the period and LaPorte went 10 of 13 from the field.
"The second quarter, we were really good," coach Skeeter Heath said. "We were really active. We have more athleticism than I've had since I've been here, which allows us to do more things on defense. We have more depth. We can stay fresh. We felt that if we could get up into them and not let them have open 3s, they would struggle scoring against us."
Valpo (2-5, 0-2) sure did, shooting 4 of 20 in the first half before generating a little spark after the break. Maggie Meyer notched all nine of her team-high points in the last two quarters.
"I still think we can be a pretty good basketball team," Otis said. "The conference is just loaded this year."
Kyleigh Kubik backed Alcorn with a dozen points and three 3s. Jaclyn Heath had an off shooting night, but handed out nine assists and Nicole Konieczny, an impressive freshman, dealt eight helpers.
"What I like about this team is how much they share the ball," Heath said. "They pass it to somebody who is open. We've got enough kids who can beat (defenders) off the dribble and kids who can usually drain a good shot about every possession."