PORTER TOWNSHIP | Before Saturday's Porter County Conference Tournament championship game, Boone Grove coach Candy Wilson said her team had one main objective: Stop Trina Coleman.
“Coleman is the reason that Morgan is playing in the championship tonight,” Wilson said. “We have to neutralize her and minimize the damage. We have a few defenses designed to help us achieve that.”
The Wolves defense excelled against Coleman, holding the point guard to seven points on their way to their 15th championship with a 40-28 victory at John F. Hinkey Gymnasium.
Boone Grove (13-5) jumped out to a 5-2 lead behind Nicole Malouhos, who made her presence known inside. She pushed into the paint for a basket and then completed the three-point play when she was fouled.
The Wolves planned to pound the ball into the paint and take advantage of their height inside.
“This is our third game this week,” Wilson said. “The legs are getting tired. Jump shots will be harder simply because of fatigue. So we needed to work the ball inside and get more layups and rely less on outside shooting.”
The Cherokees went on a 7-0 run to take their first lead at 10-9 with four minutes left in the second quarter. Courtney Maxwell had four points and Brianna Leuck nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner.
Morgan was controlling the boards at that time, leading to second chances to keep the game close.
“We had to win the rebound battle tonight,” Cherokees coach Kevin Krieger said. “They score a lot of their points off of their rebounds. We needed to box out and gain inside position to compensate for their height advantage. We did much better in the second quarter.”
The Wolves' 9-2 run in the third quarter pulled away from the Cherokees and built a 24-15 lead.
“Too many turnovers and too many fouls,” Krieger said. “They did a good job of running their 1-3-1 trap and forced us into a lot of turnovers.”
The Cherokees had 20 turnovers and committed 18 fouls.
The Wolves went 21-of-40 from the free-throw line, and Paige Aguilera scored 14 of her 16 points from the line. Malouhos added eight.
It was the second time that Boone Grove defeated Morgan this season, with a 39-26 Wolves win in regular-season action.
“When we played them in December we didn’t handle the ball well at all,” Krieger said. “We fell behind 20-0 in the first half due to our turnovers.”