Less than two weeks have elapsed since Portland won the Division 5 football state title, and the Raiders and Lansing Catholic almost literally brought their gridiron rivalry indoors in the CAAC White boys basketball season opener on Friday night, which the Cougars won by the football-like score of 27-24.
Lansing Catholic’s Dillon Rush led all scorers with 16 points, as both teams struggled to shoot the basketball all evening. The teams managed just 15 field goals in the contest, none in the final four minutes.
Cougar coach Darren Zwick described it as a battle in the paint.
“It wasn’t a pretty basketball game,” Zwick said. “We knew that it was going to be that way with a bunch of big guys out there, but I’m very proud of the kids the way they competed.”
Freshman Tony Poljan hit two free throws with 4.6 seconds left to clinch the win for Lansing Catholic (2-0 overall, 1-0 CAAC White), which trailed 19-16 after three quarters, but held Portland (1-1, 0-1) to just a single field goal, a putback of a missed free throw, in the fourth.
Zach Gustafson had a team-high nine points and Drew Roe added six for the Raiders. Roe’s points came on two third-quarter three-pointers, the only two of Portland’s eight field goals in the contest that were something other than a layup or putback.
“You can see we’re rusty,” Portland coach Dave Pettit said. “It’s not an excuse, it is what it is, we’re just not where we need to be yet, basketball-wise. We just need to get in the gym and shoot the ball some more.”
Portland took its biggest lead of the game in the first minute of the fourth quarter when Jared Krausz put back a missed Gustafson free throw to make the score 23-18 with 7:23 left in the game. Portland scored just one point the rest of the game.
“We just needed to continue to do what we practiced, and our guys did that,” Zwick said. “They fought right to the end, and found a way to win a very physical basketball game.”