Girls Basketball: Michigan City ends Merrillville’s quest for perfectionCrown Point's Courtney Kvachkoff drives around LaPorte's Taylor Thompson Friday night, February 10, 2012, at the Portage Sectional. Crown Point defeated LaPorte 44-33. | Michael Gard~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 10, 2012 10:35PM
MERRILLVILLE — For 21 games this season, the Merrillville girls basketball team did almost everything right.
The Pirates hit big shots. They played tough defense. They made their free throws. They didn’t turn the ball over much.
And that led to an undefeated record.
But on Friday night in the second semifinal of the Portage Sectional, all those aspects of the game that went right all season went wrong — all at the same time.
And when the opponent is a Michigan City squad with a chip on its shoulder and with just as much talent — if not more — than the Pirates, that’s a recipe for disaster.
The zero in the Pirates’ loss column turned into a one after the Wolves’ 70-56 win, one that wasn’t as close as the score suggests.
“I’ve never seen that team play,” Merrillville coach Amy Govert said about her Pirates with her eyes red from a few tears. “We turned the ball over. We didn’t shoot well. We didn’t rebound well. We didn’t shoot free throws well.
“You have to give Michigan City credit. They played better than us. They were ready to play and we weren’t.”
In fact, state-ranked No. 3 Merrillville wasn’t ready to play from the start as Michigan City (17-6) jumped out to a 17-3 lead with three minutes left in the first quarter. The lead grew to as many as 22 in the first half and 26 in the third quarter before the Pirates (21-1) started cutting into the lead.
But as Govert said twice, it was “too little, too late” against a Wolves’ team that was state-ranked itself for most of the first half of the season.
“It’s a great win for our kids, but we’re not finished — we have a good Crown Point team to face,” MC coach Mike Megyese said, referring to Friday’s first-game winner as the Bulldogs defeated LaPorte 44-33.
“We believed all year long we were the better team and we proved it tonight.”
Junior Toni Murphy was dominant for the Wolves, scoring a career-high 36 points to go along with five steals. She had eight field goals in the first half, then sealed the game with 11 free throws made in the second half.
“Toni showed tonight how good she can be,” Megyese said.
Darian Patton led Merrillville with 15 points — 11 coming in the fourth quarter — while Raveen Murray ended her Pirates’ career with 14 and freshman Victoria Gaines had 13 before injuring her left knee 3:09 left in the third quarter.
Like Michigan City, Crown Point (14-8) got off to a scalding start with an 11-1 run to begin the first semifinal and a 14-2 lead at the end of one quarter. And also like Michigan City, the Bulldogs avenged a pair of losses to their opponent during the regular season.
“The girls played like a team tonight,” CP coach Annie Equihua said. “We were much more patient, which I’ve been waiting for 20 games or so.”
Courtney Kvachkoff led CP with 17 points while playing tough defense on LaPorte (13-9) guard Jaclyn Heath, who only had seven points — about half her season average.