PORTAGE | With about 40 seconds left in Thursday’s game, Portage coach Rick Snodgrass finally smiled, throwing his hands in the air and exclaiming, “Yes!”
The Indians have been close in all but a few of their games, but more often than not, the other team is the one finishing and wearing the smiles.
Thursday was different. A few small lapses withstanding, Portage dominated the fourth quarter of a previously close game and beat visiting Crown Point 52-40 on a red-splashed Valentine’s Day night in a Duneland Athletic Conference basement battle.
The win was Portage’s 10th, marking the first time the Indians (10-11, 3-10) have cracked double digits in wins since 2003-04. It also was the first DAC win since Dec. 11 and only the third Portage win since the calendar turned to 2013.
“We’ve played hard, and we’ve been in every game,” Snodgrass said. “Tonight we finished.”
Forced to a short rotation due to injuries, a problem exacerbated by an elbow to David Clegg that knocked the starter out of the game for most of the second half, Portage got several clutch baskets from reserve Peter Psomadelis down the stretch.
Psomadelis’ 3-pointer with 1:32 to play in the third broke a 29-all tie and put the Indians up for good.
He had 10 points, all in the second half, including a three-point play with 2:48 to go in the game that put his team up 46-38.
“The kids showed a lot of poise,” Snodgrass said. “We’ve had some kids that have done a nice job. They don’t worry who starts.”
Jordan Simpson led the Indians with 11 points, and Psomadelis matched Michael Lattanzi with 10. Jordan Collazo had nine with five assists.
“This was a really big win for our program,” Snodgrass said. “Getting our 10th win, that’s just a great tribute to our kids working hard.”
The pregame senior salute for the home finale served as a reminder that no players on this Portage team are graduating this year, just team manager Taylor Hale.
Early in the game the bigger Bulldogs (5-13, 2-11) exploited Portage’s lack of frontline size, as 6-foot-5 Nick Jeffirs and 6-6 Bret Barclay had myriad putback opportunities and accounted for 29 of Crown Point’s 40 points. The duo had 15 points and nine rebounds in the first half, but they had just two rebounds each in the second half.
Jeffirs led the way with 16 points, and Tom Bardeson added nine points, four assists and three steals for the Bulldogs.