VALPARAISO | Nicki Monahan shook off a lingering ankle injury that kept her in the training room for much of the first half and was able to deliver when it counted on Friday night.
The Portage senior scored 10 of her game-high 18 points in the fourth quarter and had a key block that helped the Indians pull out a road Duneland Athletic Conference contest against Valparaiso 50-46.
Trailing 40-39 midway through the fourth quarter, Monahan blocked Kassie Feczko’s 3-point attempt and then scored on the other end to give the Indians a lead they would never relinquish.
“You have to mentally get back in the game whenever you’re out for a while,” Monahan said. “My teammates did a great job staying in control of the game. This was a team win tonight.”
Monahan knocked down a 3-pointer off the opening tip and the Indians rattled off 10 quick points before the Vikings ever attempted a shot. With Monahan in the locker room, sophomore Kaitlin Doud took over offensively for Portage and scored nine points in the opening eight minutes.
“The first quarter is what cost us tonight,” Valparaiso coach Jeanette Gray said. “We were just a step slow. I was proud of my kids for staying in the game and competing.”
Feczko connected on her first four 3-point attempts and helped give the Vikings (2-7, 0-4 DAC) a 35-34 lead entering the fourth quarter before Monahan took over the game. The Portage senior scored from the perimeter, in the paint and at the free throw line in the fourth quarter, but made her biggest contributions of the night on the defensive side of the ball.
“No question that our defense turns into our offense,” Monahan said. “We needed to talk more and rotate (on Feczko). Once we started doing that we were able to play better.”
Alexis Johnson had 14 points for the Indians (5-2, 2-2) while Doud finished with 11 points and six rebounds.
“We came out and started well and that’s been a big focus of ours lately,” Portage coach Chris Seibert said. “Kaitlin has been playing really well for us and we’re looking for her to become that secondary scorer behind Nicki.”
Grace Withrow scored 10 of her 16 points in the second half and Feczko finished with 14 points to lead the Vikings.