Girls Basketball: ‘Really happy’ with ‘D’Merrillville's Victoria Gaines goes past LaPorte's Delanie Alcorn to the basket Friday night in the first quarter at Merrillville High School. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 13, 2012 11:27PM
MERRILLVILLE — Despite not losing a game all season, Merrillville coach Amy Govert hasn’t been happy with the overall effort most nights.
Call her a perfectionist, but she expects a lot from her talented group of Pirates.
And on Friday night, to the average fan in the crowd, Merrillville’s 47-27 victory over LaPorte — which was much closer than the score indicates — you’d think it would be more of the same from Govert afterward.
Not this time.
Despite the Slicers only being down by two late in the third quarter and down six with just under five minutes left, Govert was as happy as a clam.
No, really she was.
“I’m extremely happy,” she said. “It was the best total effort we’ve had all year.”
The offense wasn’t quite as effective for Merrillville (15-0, 10-0 Duneland) as in the previous 14 victories in which it averaged 65 points per game. But that’s OK with Govert if she keeps seeing the doberman-style effort she saw on the defensive end.
“We haven’t had this type of game where we struggled on offense, so it was a good lesson for us,” she said. “They didn’t panic. They could have easily panicked and they didn’t. They showed a lot of composure.
“Overall I’m really happy.”
The panic could have set in when LaPorte (9-6, 4-6) cut Merrillville’s lead to 24-22 and had the ball with about two minutes left in the third quarter. When Kelsey Sule lofted another 3-point attempt and it went around the cylinder and out, it could have been the first lead for the Slicers.
Instead, the Pirates went on a 14-2 run over the next eight minutes to stay undefeated.
On the other end of the happiness spectrum, Pirates’ point guard Raveen Murray took on the more common postgame personality of her coach this season.
“The effort was there and we didn’t lose the intensity and we didn’t give up, but something was missing,” she said.
Maybe Murray was upset about her shooting from the field (3 of 14), which included seven straight misses in the first half. But she made up for it at the free throw line in the fourth quarter when the Slicers kept fouling to try to stay in the game. Problem was they kept fouling the wrong player as the senior hit 12 of 14 in the last three minutes to finish with 18 points.
“(Merrillville) made it tough — they pressure every dribble and every shot attempt,” LaPorte coach Skeeter Heath said. “Playing them, when the opportunity presents itself, you have to take it. We had four or five defensive issues that led to easy baskets.”
Merrillville’s defense held LaPorte to only 10 field goals in the game and didn’t allow the Slicers to score more than nine points in a quarter.
Victoria Gaines had an all-around effort for the Pirates with 14 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals. Sule hit four 3-pointers on her way to 18 points of the Slicers’ 27 points.
For more from this game, visit blogs.post-trib.com/gorches. Follow Steve T. Gorches on Twitter for more high school sports @SteveTGorches