MICHIGAN CITY | The final score didn't indicate it, but the game was a grind.
Up just two on Portage with 4:51 left in the opening match of the Class 4A Michigan City Sectional on Wednesday, Valparaiso's experience showed down the stretch.
Tyler Doane hit a 3, touching off an 11-point run that carried the Vikings to a 51-37 victory.
In the nightcap, Chesterton rolled over LaPorte, 70-50, a final score that was closer than the game indicated.
"It was exactly what I expected to happen," Valpo coach Joe Otis said. "Every time we've played (Portage), they've given us all we wanted. They've got some players. They had a great game plan. They were sticky. They picked their spots. I'm proud of our kids. They had a great effort. I've coached 25 sectionals in this gym and I know one thing. I don't care if it's pretty or ugly. It's all about moving on."
Deliberate Portage (10-13) closed the score to 33-31 on a 3-point play by Jordan Collazo with 4:51 left, but it was all Valpo from there. Tyler Doane's trey, his only basket, touched a run of 11 Vikings points that iced the outcome.
"Tyler's 3 was huge," Otis said. "I can't say enough about Justin Osburn. He just makes plays. (John) Mosser obviously did what he does. He easily could've had 25."
Mosser finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds, dominating the interior, but was shaking his head over several missed layups in the first half.
"Our goal was to get it inside," Mosser said. "We got what we wanted. I just couldn't finish. There was one possession, I had three shots. I was like, 'Wow!' I got myself together in the second half, we buckled down and played good defense."
Brody Wilson added 11 points for Valpo.
Portage lived and died by the 3, going 8 of 25 from deep. Jordan Simpson hit four of them, leading the Indians, who only had four players score, with 13 points.
"I'm excited about out future, but I'm disappointed we lost because we came in believing we were going to win and we walked away believing we should have won," Portage coach Rick Snodgrass said. "We battled. I couldn't ask any more out of our kids. We had a good game plan and I thought we executed well. We just didn't shoot well. Valpo is senior-dominated and they took control at the end."
Chesterton (13-8) ran away from LaPorte (5-16) in the second half, scoring the first 19 points after the break to lead by 30 in the third quarter.
"The third quarter was the key," Chesterton coach Tom Peller said. "I thought we came out with a good purpose on defense. We got four, five stops in a row. Corey (Rusboldt) got out into the passing lanes with his speed and I thought we fed off him. Chris (Palombizio) shot the ball well. I was happy to see the balanced scoring again. We passed the ball, got good shots and our subs kept the starters fresh. Even though he didn't score (much), I thought Matt (Holba) was a presence, which is so crucial for us. He does so many things that don't show in the stats."
Palombizio scored 19 points, including three 3s, while getting the last eight minutes off. Rusboldt added 10 points as 10 Trojans scored.
"You definitely get your eyes wide," Palombizio said of facing a zone. "I'm just feeling really good. It's all confidence, If you hit a couple, they have to come out, then we're able to get the ball inside. Matt looked out for us and I thought Cole (Teal) pump faked well, which got us open."
The Slicers got 25 points from Josh Fleming. LaPorte was without leading scorer Gage Ott, who was suspended recently along with two other players.
"It was like showing up with a knife to a gun fight," coach Tom Wells said. "We just didn't have enough firepower to do damage. Too many points on the board. We knew it was going to come down to how well they shot it. They got off to a good start and it forced our hand."