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The one who didn't get away: Sophomore Slaughter powers Portage past La Porte

Updated: Feb 21, 2021

La PORTE -- A couple years ago, Fegely Middle School had the area's best eighth grade team and it wasn't really close.

Throw in some some talent down Central Avenue at Willowcreek and it seemed like the future of Portage's high school program was bright.

That potential never came to fruition as a some of the players chose to take their games somewhere else, leaving the 6-foot-4 guard Kamari Slaughter as the sole holdover and the Indians' centerpiece player as a sophomore.

"Sometimes, I wish I kind of moved to a different school. Other times, I feel like I'm in a good place," Slaughter said. "It's just a lot of thinking. I never really paid them no mind. I wasn't really disappointed. When you have all good, talented players on one team, you have to adapt to it. I just have to play my game. It gets real rough. I just try to make the best out of it."

He did Friday against La Porte, where his 21 points and eight rebounds paced Portage to a 58-42 win, enabling the Indians to break the ice in the Duneland Athletic Conference finale.

"This was the best game Kamari's played all year offensively and defensively," coach Rick Snodgrass said. "He finished shots. He's been getting to the basket, he just hasn't been finishing. We're a completely different team when he finishes."

At 185 pounds, Slaughter has a defensive end's build -- he's thinking about playing football next season -- and a guard's game. One of Portage's primary ball handlers, he's comfortable at the arc and plenty strong to get the ball to the rim off the bounce. He hit three second-quarter 3s and made all six of his fourth-quarter free throws as the Indians withstood a late La Porte run.

"I felt like I just had a good game. I felt nice," Slaughter said. "The driving lanes, open 3s, they weren't stepping up. I just kept going."

Kamari Slaughter had 21 points and eight rebounds for Portage in its 58-42 Duneland Conference win at La Porte on Friday. (Photo by Jay Anglin)

Portage (6-13, 1-6) led 44-29 before La Porte (5-16, 0-7) went on a 9-0 run to pull within six. A 10-1 counter put the halt to the rally.

"The second half, I thought we got a little lax," Snodgrass said. "The bench came in, the pressure got to them, but we righted it and got the ball in the right hands. We've been close all year in conference games. It seems like we always play a really good half and can never play a full 32 minutes. We're a young team still. We made some key shots. That's been kind of the bugaboo. We've been able to get shots, we've just not been able to finish shots. Our defense has been pretty good last eight to 10 games. We just have to continue to get better on the offensive side."

Another sophomore, Jaelon Hollies, who's nine inches and 65 pounds lighter than his classmate (and former Fegely teammate), scored 12 points, as did Jorryn Junigan, who notched eight in a decisive 14-5 third quarter. Nate Orosz added three first-half 3s.

"Jaelon's played really well all year," Snodgrass said. "He's a scrapper. He does what he needs to do out there. He's probably been our most consistent player. Orosz has been struggling from the outside. When he's hitting his shot, that makes us a so much better team. It opens up everything. Jorynn, the last six, seven, eight games, is averaging almost a double double. You don't really notice him. He just goes out and does it. We have some nice young pieces. This is a nice win. We're just trying to gear it for the sectional, but also for the future for these young kids. Every game's important for them."

Grant Ott-Large had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Slicers, who were 1-of-13 from the arc in the second half.

"He's a physical player," Snodgrass said of Ott-Large. "We tried to protect the 3-point line as much as possible and try to double inside on him any time on He's going to get his points."

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