PORTER TOWNSHIP | It was only a matter of time before Boone Grove established its inside dominance against short-handed LaCrosse in Wednesday's opening round of the 90th annual Porter County Conference Tournament.
Four players scored in double figures for the Wolves, who outlasted the Tigers 58-42 to advance to Saturday morning's semifinals. They will face Kouts, which dominated Morgan Township 73-41 in the nightcap.
Jon Hogg and Dan Malouhos each scored 14 points for the Wolves, who shot 24-of-50 (48 percent) from the floor with most of the points coming in the paint. Jake Clapp scored 11 of his 13 in the second half, while guard Dean Hill had 12 points and five assists.
LaCrosse, playing without starters Bryce Guse (sick) and Sam Culver (injured), were led by Riley Charlesworth with 16 points and 12 rebounds. But the Tigers, who used just six players, shot just 12-of-37 (32.4 percent) and committed 19 turnovers.
"They were down two starters, but you have to give LaCrosse a lot of credit," Boone coach Matt McKay said. "They came out and played so hard. But it was just a matter of time before we wore them down a little bit."
Clapp led the charge in the second half, driving in for several layups while scoring nine points in the third quarter. Boone (8-3) worked its lead up to 15 points midway through the fourth quarter.
McKay was pleased that his team had 15 assists on its 24 baskets.
"That's how we have been winning all year," McKay said. "But I don't think our decision making was very good at both ends of the floor.
In the second game, Kouts shot 55.3 percent (31 of 56) from the floor on its way to an easy victory over the Cherokees (3-9).
Max Everaert led the Mustangs (12-1) with 18 points. Andrew Birky added 14 points, nine rebounds and three steals, and Matt Stewart scored 14.
"Every time we play Morgan we expect a tough contest, but they just struggled to get going," Kouts coach Marty Gaff said. “We played pretty good defense tonight. We've had pretty good balance all year and we had that again. We have a pretty good group out there and they know their roles."
Only three players scored for the Cherokees. Sophomore Chase Braden led the way with 17, Ryan Klikus scored 16 and freshman Jake Koselke had eight.