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A fired-up Hudak key to victory for Portage

PORTAGE — Portage’s Maddy Hudak was more than a little bit miffed at a few Berlin Brothersvalley fans near the end of the first half of play in a WestPAC cross-sectional contest on Tuesday night.

After getting refocused in the locker room, Hudak came out and let her play do the talking as the sophomore hit back-to-back 3-pointers early in the third to spark a Lady Mustangs’ dominating third quarter effort in ultimately earning a 54-47 victory over the Lady Mountaineers at Len Chappell Gymnasium.

“Sometimes when I hear people (fans) talk like that, it obviously gets to me,” Maddy Hudak said. “But, I talked to my trainer and my coaches at halftime in the locker room. I just had to let my playing do the talking because it’s immature of me to fight back. It (my play) shut them up. That’s all you have to do — you just have to be the bigger person. It (those 3-pointers) got our momentum going, we started scoring and we were doing so good as a team.”

With the contest knotted 21-21 at the half, Arianna Wozniak’s hoop put Portage back in front before Berlin’s Gracyn Sechler tied it up again with a putback.

The Lady Mustangs’ Lindsey Sease connected on the ensuing trip down the floor to put her team up for good, 25-23.

Hudak delivered the deep treys on consecutive Portage possessions to push the score to 31-23, and when Sechler nailed a triple of her own, the five-point margin was as close as the Lady Mountaineers would get the rest of the way.

Portage scored the next seven points to grab a 38-26 edge, while Sarah Smith’s layup concluded the 17-7 third stanza scoring differential for the home squad.

“We turned the ball over some in that third quarter, and rushed ourselves into stuff that we weren’t wanting to do,” Berlin coach Rachel Prosser said. “We gave them (Portage) easy shots. They did hit those 3s — those were some nice plays. They’re going to be up and down the floor, and we prepared for it.”

After getting convincingly beaten out on the boards in the opening half, 25-8, the Lady Mustangs packed their defense into the paint after the half, which kept the Berlin post players in check.

Though it finished the game losing the rebounding battle, 45-28, Portage evened the number up in the final two quarters at 20-20.

Leading by nine early in the fourth, an 8-2 run by the Lady Mustangs with Lauren Shaffer getting all eight helped grow the margin to the largest of the night of 15 (49-34) with 5:25 remaining.

“We’re not a big team, and they’ve got some size underneath. They played to their strength and were getting it into the paint,” Portage coach Lance Hudak said. “… (After the half), we went to the 2-3 (zone), packed it in and said ‘beat us from the outside.’ … It (going zone) kept us closer to the basket, and we asked the girls to get tougher and push back. We might not have the size but we can get position and actually jump for the ball.”

Berlin had too much pride to fold at that point as it fought hard to close the gap to the final margin with a 13-5 spurt, including the last six.

Maddy Hudak, who knocked down five 3-pointers, led all scorers with 19 points. Shaffer delivered nine of her 13 points in the fourth quarter alone.

Kylie DeArmitt recorded a double-double for Berlin with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Brianna Hunt pulled down nine boards, Sechler and Jennifer Countryman had seven apiece.

Portage’s defensive pressure created havoc on the Lady Mountaineers, who turned it over nine times before they ever scored a point to begin the game.

Unfortunately, for the Lady Mustangs, they were unable to capitalize as several missed layups kept them to just six points through the first nearly five minutes of play.

“Our first three games, we won comfortably,” Lance Hudak said. “I was telling them (Portage), that the only way you grow as an athlete is if you’re stressed. You’ve got to be stressed in situations, and tonight we were stressed. At first, our press is working, they’re turning the ball over but we’re not capitalizing.”

Sydni Sossong knocked down a 3-pointer to put Portage up 9-2 before Berlin scored six of the final eight in the opening quarer to make the score 11-8.

Maddy Hudak, who recorded eight of her team’s 10 points in the second stanza, pushed the lead to 13-8 before the Lady Mountaineers came roaring back to tie the matchup at 19-19 on Countryman’s putback at 2:29.

The Lady Mustangs turned Berlin over 12 times in the first eight minutes, 17 total at the break and 29 times in the game. Meanwhile. the home team took care of the ball with just 10 miscues throughout.

BERLIN BROTHERSVALLEY (47): Sechler 3 2-4 9, Smith 3 0-2 7, DeArmitt 1 9-10 11, Grenke 2 0-0 5, Hunt 3 3-6 7, Countryman 1 2-5 4, Lauer 1 0-1 2, Hillegass 0 0-0 0, Dupree 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 16-28 47.

PORTAGE (54): Wozniak 1 0-0 2, Sease 3 0-2 6, Sossong 1 2-7 5, M. Hudak 6 2-6 19, Shaffer 3 7-8 13, Swank 1 0-0 2, Chobany 0 0-0 0, Burkett 1 3-4 5, Giordano 1 0-0 2, Bednarski 0 0-0 0, Bartoletti 0 0-0 0, A. Hudak 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 14-27 54.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Berlin Brothersvalley 8 13 7 19 — 47

Portage 11 10 17 16 — 54

3-point field goals: Berlin Brothersvalley 3 (Sechler, Smith, Grenke); Portage 6 (M. Hudak 5, Sossong).

Records: Berlin Brothersvalley (4-3); Portage (4-0).

Officials: Gary Puto, Neil Cobaugh, Pat Hall.

JV: Portage won 43-18. High scorers — Jennifer Countryman, BB, 8; Alex Chobany, Isabella Bartoletti, P, 10 each.

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