Portage girls win WestPAC title
JOHNSTOWN- Berlin carried the momentum into overtime, but Portage carried a title home with it?Saturday night.
The Lady Mustangs gave up a six-point lead in the fourth quarter to allow the Lady Mountaineers to send the game into an extra period.
In overtime, Portage mis-sed three foul shots, allowing Berlin to keep the game close. However, the Lady Mustangs did just enough late in the frame to win the WestPAC championship, 52-49, over Berlin.
“It’s our first time here, and we talked a lot about it before the game and at halftime, they were not just happy being here,” Portage coach Lance Hudak said. “We came here to win the damn game. We just kept talking about that, and kept telling them that on the bench and during timeouts. Yeah, we missed a couple of front ends, but with the type of kids we have at Portage, the drive, the toughness, I like our chances.”
Berlin scored first in overtime, on a free throw by Shelby Coughenour, to grab a 49-48 lead.
The Lady Mustangs missed a chance on their next possession when Paisley Zatek missed the front end of a one-and-one.
However, she gave the Lady Mustangs the lead about a minute later with a basket. Portage couldn’t take advantage of opportunities to extend its lead, as Olivia McCabe and Katie Nolan missed the front end of one-and-ones.
Berlin was not able to capitalize, though, as it failed to make a basket in overtime.
Olivia McCabe hit two key free throws with 16.2 seconds left in the extra frame to push the lead to 52-49, forcing Berlin to make a 3-pointer to send it to another overtime.
However, Erica Craig’s shot came up short, giving the victory to Portage.
“It was defense,” said Hudak of the difference in overtime. “Defensively, un-derneath, Olivia and Emily McCabe went straight up. They played smart. Berlin got some chances underneath, but they went straight up, they got those rebounds, which I believe, was the difference in the overtime. We played good interior de-fense. We knew what Berlin was trying to do, trying to get those mismatches un-derneath, but we stopped them there.”
Berlin forced overtime with a fourth-quarter comeback. They trailed by five points going into the final quarter, and by six points when Lexi Wozniak hit a 3-pointer with under six minutes to play to give the Lady Mustangs a 44-38 lead.
However, Berlin responded with a 6-0 run to tie the game at 44. Both teams played tight defense the final five minutes of regulation. Both teams scored one basket and hit two free throws to send the game into overtime at 48-48.
Olivia McCabe led Portage with 18 points. Chobany added 12 points, and Wozniak chipped in with 11 more. Berlin got 14 points each from Cough-enour and Craig.
“I was expecting this,” Berlin coach Rachel Prosser said. “I think that they came to play, and they weren’t going to lose the game.”
In the first quarter both teams traded runs. Berlin opened the game with a 5-0 run, holding the Lady Mustangs scoreless for almost two minutes.
Zatek got the Lady Mustangs on the board with a 3-pointer at the 6:08 mark, sparking a 7-0 run that pushed Portage into the lead. Olivia McCabe hit two baskets during the run.
After Berlin tied the game, the Mustangs used a 7-1 run to grab a 14-8 lead late in the quarter. However, the Lady Mountaineers closed the frame on a 7-2 run to cut the Portage lead to 16-15 after eight minutes.
Play was tighter in the second quarter. Berlin held a two-point lead early in the frame at 18-16. Portage responded with a 6-1 spurt to take a 22-19 lead with 3:54 left in the half.
Both teams traded points the rest of the half. A Chobany 3-pointer late in the half gave Portage a 27-23 lead, but a Berlin layup just before the buzzer cut the lead to two points.
Wozniak hit back-to-back 3-pointers to spark an 8-0 run midway through the third quarter to give Portage a 37-29 lead. Berlin responded with a 5-0 run to trim the lead to three points, but a Chobany basket and two foul shots by Olivia McCabe pushed the lead back to seven points, at 41-34. Berlin hit a late bucket to cut the lead to six points going into the final quarter.
“It was a great game, a great championship basketball game, between two very good teams,” Hudak said. “My hat’s off to Rachel [Prossser] and the Berlin girls. I wish them luck in the District 5 playoffs.”
BERLIN (49): Trulick 0 1-2 1, Fieg 3 3-5 10, Craig 6 2-4 14, Coughenour 4 5-8 14, Riley 3 0-0 6, McClucas 2 0-0 4, Luprek 0 0-1 0. Totals- 18 11-20 49.
PORTAGE (52): Chobany 5 0-2 12, Zatek 2 2-3 7, O. McCabe 6 6-7 18, Ramus 0 0-0 0, E. McCabe 1 0-0 2, Nolan 1 0-1 2, Jubina 0 0-0 0, Wozniak 4 0-0 11. Totals- 19 8-13 52.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Berlin 15 10 11 12 1 – 49
Portage16 11 14 7 4 – 52
3-point field goals: Berlin 2 (Fieg, Coughenour); Portage 6 (Wozniak 3, Chobany 2, Zatek).
Records: Berlin (20-3); Portage (20-2).