Threes are wild: Unbeaten Chesterton hits five third-quarter treys to resist Michigan City upset bid
By CJ PETERS
CHESTERTON — It was a quick turnaround for Michigan City heading into Tuesday’s Duneland Athletic Conference showdown at Class 4A No. 1 Chesterton.
Even with essentially just a day to prepare, the Wolves gave the unbeaten Trojans all it could in a hostile road environment, but fell 60-56 for its first loss in five games.
It matched the closest game of the season for Chesterton.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do,” Michigan City coach Tom Wells said. “I’m really proud of our effort. We don’t talk about winning or losing very much, we talk about effort, and when they play with that kind of effort, I’ll take the results.
“Having played on Saturday, we really only had Monday to get into Chesterton mode, but the preparation was still good. The energy was great, we were just a couple of possessions short.”
Michigan City (11-6, 2-3) held Chesterton to four points in the first quarter and a 13-2 second-quarter run pushed its lead to as much as 15, but the hosts scored the final eight points of the half.
“The zone kind of got them out of their rhythm a little bit,” Wells said. “I thought we contested shots really well and our coverage in the zone was really good. We knew all along they were gonna make shots at some point in time and they came out in the third quarter and did that.
“The ball game was ultimately the third quarter.”
A team that averages nine turnovers a game, the Trojans committed eight in the first half.
“We were just extremely careless with the basketball,” Chesterton coach Marc Urban said. “We just weren’t sharp at all and we didn’t execute, and shot it poorly. We didn’t take care of the ball and you can’t do that against a team that’s really good at converting turnovers into offense like them.”
Still cooking off the momentum of its run into halftime, Chesterton (18-0, 5-0) indeed made some shots in the third, connecting for all five of its 3-pointers in the period, outscoring City 23-7.
“That end of the second really was a good spark,” Urban said. “We came out of the half and the kids really stepped up and hit some big time 3s. That start of the second was huge, we came down and made some plays.
“Travis (Grayson) stepped up and made some plays down the stretch and some other guys made the plays when we needed to. We were fortunate to get the win, and we know we’ll have our hands full on Friday (with Portage) as well.”
The 15-point deficit was an unfamiliar hole for the Trojans – a group Urban believes is the ‘right group of kids’ that he’s assured will fix what it needs to.
“We gotta keep grinding here,” he said. “We understand we’re gonna get everyone’s best shot. We just gotta change our mindset here down the stretch and start giving everybody our best shot, too.”
Six-foot-two sophomore Tyler Parrish led Chesterton with 16 points, scoring eight in the third quarter, including a pair of 3s.
“Tyler’s a confident kid who just keeps getting better,” Urban said. “He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing and stepping up and hitting those shots when it’s his opportunity.”
Sidelined by foul trouble, Grayson was held scoreless in the first half, but scored 12 of his 13 in the fourth. A Jamie Hodges, Jr. 3-pointer from near-NBA range tied the game at 52-all with a minute to go, but Grayson answered with a coast-to-coast lay-up.
Grayson was 4-for-4 from the line in the final minute, answering both of Hodges’ baskets that got City back within two.
“He’s a fighter, a competitor,” Urban said of Grayson. “He came back and stepped up and made the plays when we needed him to. That’s what makes him special.”
Urban was also complimentary of his post players in Chris Mullen (12 points, six rebounds) and Justin Sims (seven points, seven rebounds), who kept undersized City away from any second chances.
“If you have the size, you gotta make sure you take care of that,” Urban said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re going against a team that does or doesn’t have the size, you still gotta rebound the basketball and I thought those guys rebounded it well.”