The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 17, 2014

Porter slays Lakeside

Wickliffe tops visiting Dragons in non-conference clash

For the Star Beacon

WICKLIFFE — For the Lakeside girls, Thursday’s 48-33 loss at Wickliffe  was largely a matter of too much Mariah Porter and not enough of some other things.

Porter, who stands 6-foot-3, put in 16 points and hauled down 21 rebounds in leading the Blue Devils to a 48-33 non-conference win.

Porter, a junior, also blocked 3 shots. She has registered a double-double in all but one of her games this season, and this time she notched it by halftime. Her 13 offensive boards on Thursday was one shy of the school record, set in 1980-81.

“She’s really worked on her game,” Wickliffe coach Vince Granito said. “She was actually our team MVP last year (and) our leading scorer last year. And last year she didn’t even start for us. She came of the bench and she was still our leading scorer.”

“She’s a big girl,” Lakeside coach Dave Malone said. “I thought Aaliyah Hunt, for a freshman, did a really nice job on her. I thought that she was pretty slow-footed in the lane. I mean, she just parked it down there for 6 to 8 seconds and no call.”

Sarah Morehouse had a big game for the Dragons (2-10, 1-7) with 20 points and 6 blocks. She was joined in double digits by fellow guard Kristin Keasling, who put in 10 points. But that’s where we start to get to the issue regarding things of which there weren’t enough for Lakeside. Aside from Morehouse and Keasling, the Dragons managed only 3 points.

“Morehouse played awesome,” Malone said. “(italic) Awesome. (close italic). Little Kristin Keasling did pretty well. When Sharisse (Hunt) got into foul trouble, that’s really when they came back. We were up 8 points; it looked like we were off to a good start. Sharisse got into foul trouble. She came out; that’s when they made their run. And once they got going, their confidence picked up.”

Thus another thing lacking for the Dragons, and perhaps the most important thing.  Hunt picked up her second foul near the end of the first quarter, and her third about 4 minutes later.

And as Malone attested, that early lead disappeared and never came back. Lakeside held advantages of 10-2 and 12-4, with Morehouse putting in 9 points. But with less than two minutes left in the first period, Wickliffe began an 11-point run which it turned into a

20-2 stretch. When Cassie Daye (11 points) capped it with the first of her 3 3-pointers, the Blue Devils held a 24-14 lead.

The closest the Dragons could get after that was 26-19 when Morehouse tripled inside the two-minute mark of the half. Though Wickliffe put in 22 points in the second quarter, the scoring was scarcer thereafter on both sides. In fact during one stretch of the third period, both teams went about four and a half minutes without scoring.

Aaliyah Hunt matched Morehouse with 6 blocks.

“(Morehouse) is a tough player,” Granito said. “I think both of their guards (are) both extremely strong, very accurate from the outside. They do a real good job of breaking their defenders down in terms of bringing the ball up.”

Carly Palgut scored 11 points, dished out 4 assists and stole the ball 5 times for Wickliffe. Teammate Katie Marn tallied all 8 of her points in the first half and added 11 boards.

“I had done my homework on them; they have not been typically that good of a shooting team,” Malone said. “And I know that in the first half, they hit 4 threes. And there was nobody through the season so far that stood out as a big-time perimeter scorer.”

Overall, the Blue Devils, who had 6 treys overall, commanded the boards by a 49-28 count. That margin was 30-10 at the break.

Wickliffe also forced 24 turnovers while giving the ball away just 13 times themselves.

The Blue Devils have been playing without their starting point guard, Alexis Gricar, who is due to return from a knee injury next week.

Granito explained that after winning four games before Christmas, his team, now 6-7, has been up and down.

“I think we’ve been really doubting ourselves the last couple of games,” he said. “And I think that showed a lot of character, at least on our girls’ part, in terms of getting down — because that’s been our Achilles’ heel the last couple of games — and then every game we’ve fought to get back, and then we expend so much energy to get back into it, we end up losing it later on in the game. For tonight, not only to get back but then extend the lead out, I think the girls learned a lot there.”

Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.