T-D HS Basketball

Portage girls drop Shade to repeat as WestPAC champions

By: By PAUL BURIAK

The Portage girls’ basketball squad successfully defended its WestPAC championship Saturday night with a convincing 64-41 victory over Shade at the Pitt-Johnstown Sports Center.
The Mustangs (21-1) jumped out to an early double-digit lead over the Panthers (18-4) and stayed in control the rest of the way.
“We were able to come out and play our style,” said Portage head coach Lance Hudak. “We were able to press and run the floor, and that got us off to a great start.”
Portage got a game-high 21 points from Olivia McCabe.
The balanced Mustangs offense also saw Lexi Wozniak hit five of her team’s eight 3-pointers to finish with 15 points, while Paisley Zatek added 10 points.
The Panthers, who were making their first-ever appearance in the WestPAC girls’ championship game, were led by Emma Spinelli’s nine points.
“Their physicalness and quickness were tough for us to deal with,” said Shade head coach Andy Muha.  “We struggled in the first half and didn’t adjust.”
Shade took a brief 2-0 lead on Brittany Berkey’s jumper but Portage answered with a 13-3 run keyed by two Wozniak 3-pointers.
Emily Chobany’s two free throws put the Mustangs up 17-7 heading into the second, and Portage then caught fire from long range to widen their advantage.
Zatek buried two 3-pointers and Wozniak one as the Mustangs outscored Shade 15-3 to go ahead 32-10 with just over four minutes remaining in the half.
McCabe finished the second quarter strong for the Mustangs with six of the last eight Portage points as the lead grew to 42-17 at the break.
“We shot well, but our defensive intensity made the difference,” Hudak said. “Shade has some very good scorers and we made them work for every point.”
The Panthers could get no closer than 20 in the second half.
“Our size dictates that we play up-tempo,” Muha said, “but we couldn’t get any consistent runs.”
Both squads are looking ahead to the upcoming district playoffs, with Shade in District 5-A and the Mustangs in District 6-A.
“The season starts over on Wednesday,” Muha said. “We wipe the slate clean and everything is one game at a time from now on.”
Hudak felt that “this type of game is a springboard into the district playoffs.”
“We just want to go out, play our game, and not worry about anything but the next opponent.”

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