MICHIGAN CITY | With a chance to bring the house down, Michigan City's Keenan Simmons showed a little compassion and went for the simple layup as opposed to the highlight dunk.
It was the only time Simmons disappointed the hometown crowd.
The SIU-Edwardsville recruit had 27 points and 11 rebounds as the Wolves blew open a close game against Portage with a strong second half in a 74-56 victory that proved to be a nice bounce back from a 24-point loss to Munster.
“We came out to prove a point tonight,” Simmons said. “We just had to come out strong and play our game.”
Simmons already had put down four dunks, including a sweet one-handed alley-oop, when he had a breakaway late in the fourth quarter. With the crowd bracing themselves for a thunderous jam, Simmons simply took his two points and got back on defense.
“My leg gave out on me at the end,” Simmons said with a smile.
Michigan City coach John Boyd stretched his bench throughout the night, even calling on several junior varsity players during key stretches of the game. Lucas Daurer had 11 points while Brad Pawloski added six off the bench.
“Our goal is for every player on our team to be viable,” Boyd said. “I feel like we can go pretty deep and some of our players like Lucas and Brad Pawloski are rounding into form.”
The Indians (7-8, 0-4 DAC) played tight with the Wolves (9-3, 3-0) throughout much of the first half, but Simmons found his stroke after the break and scored 13 of his game-high 27 points in the second half. The senior forward knocked down shots from all over the court, including two 3-pointers and five free throws.
“I worked on developing my range all summer long,” Simmons said. “Coach Boyd worked with me on me 3-point shot and my mid-range game. I worked all summer on that.”
Luke Kizer led the Indians with 22 points while Jordan Collazo added nine despite having a poor shooting night. The junior was just 2-of-13 from the floor and did the bulk of his damage from the free throw line.
“Our kids kept battling and that’s what I was the most proud of,” Portage coach Rick Snodgrass said. “We had some open shots; we just couldn’t get enough of them to go down. I think if we hit a few of those shots, maybe it’s a different kind of game. It wasn’t an 18-point game. We’ll continue to work hard.”