La PORTE — Twice.
That's only how many times La Porte's boys basketball team scored at least 81 points in a game all of last season.
On Saturday, due in large part to balanced scoring, the Slicers reached the 81-point plateau, as four players finished with at least 14. Equitable scoring and contributions from numerous players permitted La Porte to pull away in the second half and beat visiting South Bend Clay 81-71 to give it its first win of the young season.
“It's great, having the ability to have almost all of our starters score in double figures,” the Slicers’ Carson Crass said. “Put up a good stat sheet. It makes a difference in the end with the final score and the outcome. If we can continue to do that, we'll keep winning games.”
Crass guided the Slicers (1-1) with 19 points, while Garrott Ott-Large was right behind with 18, including 11 in the third when La Porte distanced itself. Grant Ott-Large recorded 15, and Grant Gresham had 14 and grabbed 10 rebounds. Gresham went a perfect 8-for-8 on free throws as well. Mason Schroeder added nine points, nearly giving the Slicers four starters in double figures versus the Colonials (0-1).
“We played extremely hard,” La Porte coach Kyle Benge said. “Offensively, we're a step above where we were at last year being able to score the basketball. We scored from a variety of positions. We had four guys in double figures. You're going to win a lot of basketball games being able to do that.”
Clinging to a one-point lead early in the third quarter, La Porte broke the game open with a 21-7 run that turned a close 38-37 contest into a 15-point advantage (59-44) late in the period for the Slicers' biggest lead of the day. Garrott Ott-Large was particularly effective after the break, tallying 11 points and nailing a pair of 3-pointers in the quarter. For the game, he went 3-for-6 behind the arc and made all seven of his free throws, despite dealing with foul trouble.
Clay trimmed the deficit to 11 at the end of the quarter, 59-48 and later cut the margin to seven in the fourth. But La Porte never let it get closer the rest of the way. The Colonials pulled within 63-56 with 4:22 remaining, then the Slicers' cushion fluctuated between seven and 13 as they made almost all of their free throws in the last period and overcame Robert Allen's 16-point fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers.
Allen poured in a game-high 32 points, drilling 6-of-11 from downtown, but it wasn't enough. Tomias Hunt notched 19 points.
“Allen had an awesome game,” Benge said. “We've got to be better defensively. We've got to find shooters, close out on shooters. Understand when guys get hot, we've got to kind of cool them off a little bit, maybe send an extra defender at them. But give Clay credit, they're vastly improved, they're well-coached."
Benge was especially impressed with his squad's frontcourt, greatly aiding its offensive output and ultimate victory.
“Our three bigs were really good,” Benge said. “Those three guys (Grant Ott-Large, Gresham and Mason Schroeder), we're going to talk about feeding them the ball in the post. We saw an advantage we got. One of their post players got in foul trouble early on. We just kept throwing the ball in the post. And then, you can kind of see how it opens up Carson's ability to get into the lane and knock down shots.”
The Slicers dealt with a height disparity, as Clay had two players who were 6-foot-7. One of those, though, Anthony Neal picked up a pair of fouls in the first quarter and went to the bench.
Crass was aggressive offensively and repeatedly attacked the basket. His basket midway through the fourth put La Porte ahead nine, 65-56, after the visitors pulled within its closest second-half margin of seven.
“I was making my way to the hole to start off with,” Crass said. “Getting some layups, getting some and-ones, getting to the free throw line. That's always a good way to heat up and get going.”
LP led 21-15 following the first and held a 38-34 lead at the break.
The Slicers finished 24-of-29 from the charity stripe, while Clay went just 11-for-22. The Colonials did drain 10 of their 26 treys.
La Porte’s junior varsity edged Clay 62-59. Hayden Lowe posted 17 points for the Slicers (1-1), and Drew Noveroske and Evan Cizewski each netted 11.
La Porte 81, South Bend Clay 71
Four Slicers scored in double figures, led by Carson Crass’ 19 points.