Sam Mentus of Laingsburg celebrates after her team took a 2 point lead late in the 3rd quarter of their game Tuesday January 20, 2015 in Portland. Laingsburg fought back after blowing an 11-point lead 1st half lead to win 43-38.
Tuesday night’s CMAC showdown between Class C No.7-ranked Laingsburg and Class D honorable mention Portland St. Patrick lived up to the hype.
The two teams squared off at Portland Middle School in a battle for first place in the CMAC, and after briefly blowing an 11-point lead, the Wolfpack (10-0, 8-0) defeated the Shamrocks (8-2, 5-2), 43-38.
“We knew this was going to be a dogfight,” said Laingsburg assistant coach Eric Wade, who has been filling in for coach Doug Hurst as he remains under the weather. “This was a statement game for us. To come in here and beat a quality team like St. Pats, we’re just happy to get out of here (with a win).
“Every game in the CMAC is tough. We feel that we are in one of the toughest Class C conferences in the state.”
The Wolfpack’s stingy full-court press caused several Shamrock first-quarter turnovers and helped them take a 16-5 lead into the second quarter.
However, Portland St. Patrick stepped up to the challenge.
The Shamrocks began to figure out Laingsburg’s press in the second quarter and outscored the Wolfpack, 20-11, cutting their lead to two going into the half.
“We knew that if we wanted to get ahead of them that we had to execute,” said Portland St. Patrick’s Riley Smith, who scored 10 points. “They’re a great offensive and defensive team. We had to have the mindset that they had, get in their heads a little bit, and execute from there.
“We were able to break the press (in the second quarter) and our shots started to fall. We got more looks inside.”
Portland St. Patrick came out with similar intensity in the third quarter. Three minutes into the second half, the Shamrocks grabbed their first lead of the game, 29-27, after a Smith jumper.
Laingsburg quickly retaliated by ending the quarter on a 10-0 run — led by six points from senior Nicky McAvoy — as they took an eight-point lead into the game’s final quarter.
“St. Pat’s had a really good lockdown defense, and we knew that we had to penetrate to draw them in and then kick it out,” said Wolfpack senior Sara Hurst, who scored four points. “When we got in the middle, also, they would collapse on us and she (McAvoy) was there all the time.”
Portland St. Patrick made a late push to try and hand the Wolfpack their first loss of the season — outscoring them, 9-6, in the final eight minutes — but the deficit was too much to overcome.
Mackenzie Smith added 10 points for the Shamrocks.
Laingsburg junior Lindsey Smith had a game-high 11 points, and senior Jaylynn Mitchell scored 10 points.