JOHNSTOWN - With two 1,000-point scorers on offense, people sometimes forget about Portage's strength on defense. The Mustangs made a lasting impression in Saturday night's WestPAC girls title game at UPJ.
They used a stifling press that caused numerous Shade turnovers, which they turned into layups or free throws. Along with the press, Portage used a physical style of play in the half-court set that prevented the Panthers from getting any easy baskets.
That combination allowed Portage to jump out to a double digit lead and run away with a 64-41 victory to claim their second consecutive WestPAC girls title.
"At halftime they seemed to be a little tired," Portage girls coach Lance Hudak said. "I think our press was really working on them. It led to a lot of turnovers and led to some easy baskets for us.
"In the first half we were hitting our foul shots, and we just kept separating. When we went in at the half we talked about the other night we played Berlin and were up 16, and they came fighting back."
Shade's Brittany Berkey hit a baseline jumper, and Emma Spinelli drilled a 3-pointer to give the Panthers an early 5-2 lead. However, that was the last lead they would enjoy.
Lexi Wozniak tied the game on a trey. Then the Portage defense took over. The Mustangs closed the quarter on a 15-2 run to take a 17-7 lead after eight minutes.
The run was sparked by an Emily Chobany steal and layup, and a Katie Nolan free throw after another Shade turnover. The run was capped by an Olivia McCabe putback and two free throws by Chobany.
Portage kept up the defensive pressure in the second quarter. It opened the quarter on a 7-0 run to push the lead to 24-7. Four of the points during the run came off of turnovers, and the other three came on a trey by Zatek. Shade finally scored on a Mikayla Ott baseline jumper with 4:49 left in the half, but that did not slow down the Mustangs.
Wozniak immediately hit another 3-pointer, followed by Zatek's second bomb from behind the arc that pushed the lead to 32-10. The Mustangs got scoring from five different players in the second quarter as they outscored the Panthers 25-10 in the frame to take a 42-17 lead into halftime.
"We're 21-1 not because of one person or two people, it's everybody out on that court," Hudak said. "If they are going to pack in, and a times there were three girls on Olivia tonight, you don't leave Lexi Wozniak wide open, or a Paisley [Zatek], or an Emily [Chobany], or a Katie [Nolan]."
PORTAGE (64): Wozniak 5 0-0 15, Nolan 1 1-2 4, Zatek 3 2-2 10, E. Chobany 3 2-2 8, O. McCabe 8 5-6 21, C. Jubina 1 0-0 2, A. Chobany 0 2-2 2, Baker 0 1-2 1, Crum 0 1-2 1, K. Jubina 0 0-0 0, L. McCabe 0 0-0 0, Caurvina 0 0-0 0, Barton 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 14-18 64.
SHADE (41): Spinelli 2 4-6 9, Rapsky 1 2-2 4, Pruss 1 4-4 6, A. Meck 3 0-0 6, Berkey 3 2-2 8, Medva 0 0-0 0, Ott 2 1-2 6, Karl 1 0-0 2, Kline 0 0-0 0, N. Meck 0 0-0 0, Mains 0 0-0 0, Fogle 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 13-16 41.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Portage17 25 13 9 - 64
Shade7 10 14 10 - 41
Three point field goals: Portage 8 (Wozniak 5, Zatek 2, Nolan); Shade 2 (Spinelli, Ott).
Records: Portage (21-1); Shade (18-4).