PORTER TOWNSHIP | Andrew Birky saved his biggest shot for the biggest moment on Friday night.
The Kouts senior knocked down a 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter to stop a Boone Grove run and ultimately hold off the Wolves 55-49 in a key Porter County Conference contest.
Birky was left open at the top of the key with 2:06 remaining and the Wolves within two points. Birky hit the shot and then finished off the game from the free throw line to end the night with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
“I tried to do whatever it takes to help my team get a win here tonight,” Birky said. “They were going on a run and we needed to answer that. Luckily my teammate found me and I was able to hit the shot.”
Dean Hill had scored back-to-back layups to get the Wolves to within 45-43 before Birky’s big shot. Daniel Malouhous hit two 3-pointers but Boone Grove was never able to get back within a possession in the final two minutes.
“We had more of our offensive lineup in and that created a mismatch when it came to Birky,” Boone Grove coach Matt McKay said. “If we would’ve been able to get the game tied, we would’ve been able to start switching offense for defense and get into some better matchups.”
The Mustangs (14-2, 4-0) were coming off a tough loss to Hanover Central in the PCC championship last weekend and were hoping for a quick start against Boone Grove. Instead, Hill and Jon Hogg combined for nine first quarter points as the Wolves jumped out to an 11-8 lead. Boone Grove attacked the inside and got Kouts big man Matt Stewart into early foul trouble which helped control the pace of the game.
“Give Boone Grove a lot of credit for making us play their style of game,” Kouts coach Marty Gaff said. “We had some tough calls and that was something that we had to deal with.”
Cody Nelson helped put the Mustangs ahead with eight second quarter points and then Birky shined as he scored 13 of his 21 points in the second half. Hogg led the Wolves (8-5, 4-2) with 15 points while Malouhos added 14 points.
“It was important to us to come in here and get a victory on the road,” Birky said. “No one likes to lose and we needed to bounce back quickly from last weekend.”