Portage seals win with big second quarter
Updated: January 6, 2012 11:34PM
MERRILLVILLE — For the second straight game, a dominant second quarter was the key in another DAC victory for Merrillville.
The Pirates outscored visiting Portage 23-4 in that period and coasted to a 75-47 victory over their conference rivals.
“We like to get a feel for the game and then, in the second quarter, we can make the adjustments that we need defensively,” said Merrillville (6-4, 5-2 DAC) coach TJ Lux. “We had some great energy at the beginning and then some of our bench guys gave us some critical minutes. That helped get us going.”
Portage kept pace with Merrillville in the first quarter, hitting 50 percent (6-for-12) of its field-goal attempts. The Indians trailed 22-17 after one.
But Portage’s offense cooled in the second quarter, as it hit just one shot from the floor. Merrillville, meanwhile, followed a 10 of 18 field goal performance in the first quarter by going 10-of-15 in the second.
“Every game, it seems like the other team’s veteran players just get after us and, right now, we’re just not strong enough to handle it,” said Portage (1-12, 0-7 DAC) coach Rick Snodgrass. “The only way you can get through that is to just keep playing; and that’s what we’re going to do.”
The Pirates iced the game at the start of the second half with a 14-2 run, moving them ahead 59-23 midway through the third quarter.
Four different Pirates finished the game scoring in double digits: Jelani Pruitt (19 points), BJ Jenkins (16 points), Zoran Talley (12 points) and Frank Jefferson (11 points).
“That makes us more dynamic,” Lux said. “It’s an adjustment without Edward (Seay, out for the season with an injury) in the lineup. We’ve got some guys that can pick up the slack. It’s just a matter of them getting experience at the varsity level.”
One of the guys that has been picking up the slack of late is Pruitt, whose 19 points set a new season high.
“That’s a big void for us to fill,” said Pruitt. “But Coach Lux has been guiding me through it and I’ve been getting help from seniors like Edwards and John Mosley. I’m learning a lot from them.”
Tyler Gonzalez and David Jercha had nine points apiece to lead the Indians. Portage played most of the game without freshman guard Jordan Collazo, who suffered a deep thigh bruise during practice this week. Collazo did start, but left the game in the first quarter and did not return.