Lady Mustangs use many weapons to move on to semis
PORTAGE — With a deep and diverse lineup, the Portage girls basketball team can find several ways to score.
Hosting Bishop Carroll Catholic in the District 6 Class 1A quarterfinals Monday at Len Chappell Gymnasium, the No. 3 Lady Mustangs discovered success from every inch of floor.
Portage drove to the hoop, connected from deep range and was efficient at the charity stripe to guide the way to a 57-43 victory.
“We played a really good offensive and defensive game,” Portage coach Lance Hudak said. “Defensively, I felt we were a step ahead of them all night. We really shut down who we needed to. We know who can score for them, and they did, but when we can score from the field, from the foul line and from the perimeter, it makes our game plan much easier.”
Portage (15-3) featured a strong inside-outside scoring threat, which was led by the tandem of Lindsey Sease and Maryn Swank.
The senior guard Sease, who scored 13 points, helped set up a potent Mustangs scoring attack from deep range as she connected a trio of times from beyond the arc. Portage connected on five treys as sophomore Ari Wozniak netted a pair as well.
Swank, who stepped into the lineup recently after starting forward Sydni Sossong was slowed with an injury, used her lengthy 5-foot-7 frame to take command from the low post and score underneath. She scored 11.
In addition to their red-hot performance from the field, the Mustangs were 16-of-23 from the foul line.
“We knew coming in that Portage is very strong offensively,” Bishop Carroll coach Chris DeGol said. “They have a bunch of girls that can put the ball in the basket, and they shot very well tonight. This is a make or miss game — they made them, and we did not.”
It was a bounce-back effort for the Mustangs, who had a poor shooting effort in this past Thursday’s WestPAC semifinal against Shanksville-Stonycreek. Despite finding opportunities, Portage simply couldn’t hit the mark as it failed to back up its 2020 WestPAC title with a 43-35 loss.
Bound to right the wrongs of their previous game, the Mustangs were efficient from the field early and fired on all cylinders offensively.
A trey from Sease capped off a 9-2 run by Portage to open the game, and the Mustangs led 31-18 at halftime.
“We weren’t happy with how we played in the semifinals,” Swank said. “We had two really tough practices since then and came out ready today.”
Portage spent much of the night trying to minimize the damage from Bishop Carroll’s scoring duo of Savannah Smorto and Ellie Long.
Long, who’s 5-foot-10 stature had the capability to cause problems for the Mustangs, netted nine points but was neutralized on the boards by Swank and 5-foot-8 freshman Jenna Burkett.
“(Bishop Carroll had) the height advantage on us,” Sease said. “We really had to rebound and box-out. It wasn’t easy, but we got the win.”
Smorto kept her team alive despite trailing by 21 entering the fourth quarter. Continuing to fight until the final buzzer, Smorto posted nine points in the final stanza.
The Lady Huskies outscored Portage in the fourth quarter, 17-10.
“These girls never quit,” DeGol said. “They put up a great fight. We didn’t get the result we wanted, but I’m really proud of their efforts.”
With the victory, the reigning District 6-8-9 Class 5A champions advance to the conference semifinals against No. 2 Saint Joseph’s onThursday. Saint Joseph’s beat Harmony Monday, 58-35.
The Mustangs, who won their first-ever district title last winter in Class 5A, are seeking to punch their ticket into the 1A district title game this year.
“We need to have two real good practices this week,” Swank said. “We have a tough matchup Thursday. We have to come out, win and make it back to the finals.”
PORTAGE (57): Sease 4 2-4 13, Swank 4 1-1 11, Chobany 3 2-2 8, Wozniak 3 2-5 10, Sossong 1 2-2 4, Shaffer 0 4-4 4, J. Burkett 1 2-2 4, M. Hudak 1 1-3 3, Giordano 0 0-0 0, A. Hudak 0 0-0 0, Bednarksi 0 0-0 0, C. Burkett 0 0-0 0. Totals–17 16-23 57.
BISHOP CARROLL (43): Smorto 4 11-13 19, E. Long 3 3-4 9, Ostinowsky 3 2-2 9, Becquet 1 0-1 2, Buynack 2 0-0 2, Krumenacker 0 0-0 0, Koscho 0 0-0 0, Hilyer 0 0-0 0, Dieseler 0 0-0 0, L. Long 0 0-0 0. Totals–12 16-20 43.
3-point field goals: Portage 5 (Sease 3, Wozniak 2); Bishop Carroll 1 (Ostinowsky).
SCORE BY QUARTER
Bishop Carrol 9 9 8 17 — 43
Portage 15 16 16 10 — 57
Records: Portage (15-3); Bishop Carroll (6-9).