Bombs away Bulldogs: Lux, Adzia combine for 10 3s as Crown Point singes La Porte
BY CJ PETERS
LA PORTE — When junior sharpshooter AJ Lux is connecting on 3-pointers like he was on Friday, Crown Point coach Clint Swan’s job gets a whole lot easier.
“It makes me look smart when he’s shooting like that,” Swan said.
Add in senior Drew Adzia’s performance, and Swan looked like a genius.
The 5-foot-9 floor general Adzia poured in a game-high 24 points with four 3s, while Lux drilled six 3s and had 21 points, pushing Crown Point past a pesky La Porte team, 66-51.
“I just like to get all my other teammates involved, but if the shots come to me, then they come to me, then it’s my job to knock them in, and facilitate the offense,” Adzia said. “Any of these guys can hit a shot at any given time and (Friday) it was AJ Lux, he hit huge 3s in the second half for us. When you get into a rhythm like that, you think every shot that goes up is going in and it’s always good to have that feeling.
“When they go on a run, we know we have to answer at some point. It’s a game of runs and we just gotta respond to their runs and outlast them.”
Crown Point (11-4, 3-1) went on a pair of 7-0 runs in the second and third quarter, both in instances where La Porte had brought the game within single digits.
“Every time we thought we were on the verge of putting them away, they’d go on their own little run, and I thought we did a good job of holding our composure,” Swan said. “We didn’t have many possessions where it was turnover, turnover, turnover. We might have taken a couple of questionable shots, but it wasn’t bad shot after bad shot – we would come back with good possessions and I think that had a lot to do with why we won.
“Those 3s in the second half by AJ were huge. It seemed like every time we were kind on the precipice of it getting kinda hairy for us, he stepped up and hit some big ones.”
Four of Lux’s six 3s came in the fourth quarter as the rangy shooter was able to get free amidst the La Porte pressure defense.
“It’s tough with a team like that,” La Porte coach Jordan Heckard said. “When we’re down by 10, 13, then you have to go pressure, double teams. We tried to speed them up with our traps, but when they break that pressure, someone’s gonna be open and you hope to get rotation to their best shooters, but they’re so good at those skip passes and finding Lux and Adzia.
“We used a lot of energy to go from 15 to 8 then 13 to 9 and then they find Lux for a three or get an offensive rebound. They’re so good at when they get a rebound, they kick to a shooter and it was one thing we worked on in practice that if we don’t get the first rebound, we gotta lock on to shooters. I think they had eight points off offensive boards by halftime, that’s tough."
Adzia scored at least five points in every quarter, including eight in the opening eight minutes.
“Drew was great in that first half,” Swan said. “They did a good job of bottling up AJ in the first two quarters and he was able to find his own opportunities. The guys did a great job of getting him open.
“I think we shot the ball with a little more confidence. Especially there in the fourth quarter when they had to trap us, that’s hard to do when we’re able to shoot the ball like that.”
Swan thought the Bulldogs were much better defensively than they were in last week’s loss to 4A No. 1 Chesterton.
“I just felt our awareness was a lot better,” he said. “We weren’t leaving our guys open and we weren’t turning our heads and leaving cutters. We were more tied together this week than last.
“(La Porte) is really good when they fall into a rhythm and they’re able to cleanly make their passes and cuts, and I thought we did a good job of being in passing lanes and taking away some vision. They have some scorers and run some good stuff, but I felt like they had a tough time stringing together consecutive scorers and that allowed us to get some separation.”
With an intentional foul and a technical foul in the fourth, Heckard said the team ‘can’t lose our heads.’
“Crown Point does everything so well and there’s not a big margin for error and unfortunately sometimes tonight, we let adversity get the best of us and that’s something we have to learn from,” Heckard said. “When things don’t go our way, we gotta control what we can control while limiting runs and trying to sustain ours. Hopefully our guys learn from that.
“Our identity needs to always be to play hard, play the right way, and do the things we can do to get back in the game. In the second half, I don’t think we did a great job of that, but we’ll get another opportunity at that (Saturday)."
Ja’Meriyon Cross led La Porte (8-7, 1-3) with 13 points, knocking down a pair of the team’s seven 3-pointers. Kyle Kirkham had 12 points and Grant Ott-Large added 10, while Rylan Kieszkowski hit a pair of 3s off the bench and scored nine.
“The effort was there,” Heckard said. “Guys coming off the bench like Spencer (Noveroske) and Nick Shuble, they came in and were instantly diving on the ground, trying to take charges. If it was one thing, the bench was dialed in the whole time and that’s good to see down the stretch.
“But yeah, gotta make plays.”
At halftime, La Porte honored the 1996-97 team coached by Joe Otis that made it to the final four in what was the last year of the single-class state tournament.