MORGAN TOWNSHIP | Two games with two very different rhythms opened the 42nd Porter County Conference girls tournament Monday night.
In the opener, Kouts held the Tigers to three points in each the second and third quarters in a 35-21 win. Jayla Crump led the Fillies on offense with 11 points while Megan Heinold added nine points and Emma Leatherman pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.
In the nightcap, Hebron’s offense led an early comeback before the Hawks ran away with a 55-39 win over Boone Grove. Katie Clemens scored 13 points and pulled down 16 rebounds for Hebron while Madison Bell also scored 13 and Shelby Yankauskas added 12.
Naomi Culver led LaCrosse with 11 points in the loss. The Fillies held Tigers star forward Katie Vance scoreless on just one shot attempt.
“On the defensive end, we were just trying to be physical,” Kouts head coach Ron Kobza said. “We felt like we were the more physical team defensively and that’s just what we try to do, we just bump them and get them off-balance a little bit. We like to switch up our defense, get them off their feet and out of their comfort level a little bit.”
Early scoring was back-and-forth until Kouts mounted a 6-2 run to end the first quarter with an 11-7 lead, capped by Leatherman’s offensive rebound and put-back. The teams combined for just eight points in the second quarter and the Fillies led 16-10 at halftime.
Kouts never lost the lead it took on Heinold’s free throws late in the first quarter. The Fillies lead reached double digits early in the third quarter on Crump’s free throws.
Despite the tournament-opening win, Kobza admitted his team will have to improve in order to advance again.
“We’ve got to play a lot better,” Kobza said. “We’ve got to move more aggressively and take better care of the ball.”
Boone Grove jumped out to an early advantage and built a 15-7 lead, but Hebron battled back to close the gap to 15-10 after the first quarter. The lead changed hands four times midway through the second quarter before Hebron took it for good, 29-28, on Jewel Elam’s free throw with just 14 seconds left in the half. A free throw each from Clemens and Bell gave the Hawks a 31-28 halftime lead.
Hebron pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring the Wolves 15-4. The Hawks lead reached double digits, 41-30, on an Elam layup with just more than three minutes left in the third quarter and Hebron flirted with a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter but never quite reached that mark.
Sarah Brown scored 11 for Boone Grove and was the only Wolves player in double digits. Ruby Mioduski added seven points and four blocks.