Lady Bulldogs defeat Chesterton 58-46, Portage 50-38 to capture 2nd straight Sectional Championship

A Special Report by USA-365 Team

Sometimes you had to tell dad who the best players were at the 2020 Portage Sectional last week. (All photos by Mark Smith)
CP's Jessica Carrothers (14) turns the corner against Chesterton's Ashley Craycraft (2) in the Class 4A Sectional 2 semifinals.
Crown Point's Jessica Carrothers (14) draws an offensive foul the hard way against Chesterton junior Emma Schmidt (24).
CP's Allie Govert (24) keeps an eye on Chesterton junior Kaitlyn Carr (31) in the CP Chesterton sectional semifinal.
CP's Abby Stoddard (30) tries to stay in front of Chesterton's Nalani Malackowski (10) in the sectional semifinal in Portage.
CP's Dash Shaw (20) slips off Ema Schmidt (24) to help Jessica Carrothers (14) double team Nalani Malackowski (10) in first half action. The Lady Bulldogs won 58-46.
CP senior Dash Shaw (left), junior Allie Govert (middle), and sophomore Jessica Carrothers are introduced to the crowd before the championship game at the Class 4A Portage Sectional.
CP's Dash Shaw (20) runs Portage's Skylar Flanigan (11) towards CP center Lilly Stoddard (31) in the sectional championship game. CP and Portage finished 1-2 in the Duneland Conference this season.
CP's Alyvia Santiago (10) and Jessica Carrothers (14) look to contain Portage senior Troilisia Lacey (12) who led the Indians with 14 points.
CP's Alyna Santiago steps forward to take the game ball after CP win the final game. Alyna is out for the season after knee surgery.
Crown Point's Alyna Santiago Dash Shaw (middle) and Alexis Smith (right) hold the sectional trophy high after CP's come-from-behind victory over Portage.
Coaches want their players to treat each other like family members and that's not a problem for CP's sisters Alyvia (left) and Alyna Santiago and sisters Abby and Lilly Stoddard (right) who are all sectional champions after CP's 50-38 win over Portage last Saturday night. (All photos by Mark Smith)

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Revised: February 21, 2020 .

Team /Record 1 2 3 4 Final
CROWN POINT (26-0) 12 8 10 20 50
PORTAGE (20-6) 11 9 11 7 38

Saturday, February 8, 2020  - at IHSAA Class 4A, Sectional 2 Championship game at Portage High School in PORTAGE, IN

CROWN POINT (50): Dash Shaw 4-0-9, Jessica Carrothers 6-6-21, Abby Stoddard 0-4-4, Lilly Stoddard 3-2-8, Allie Govert 0-4-4, Nikki Gerodemos 0-0-0, Alyvia Santiago 1-1-4. TOTALS: 14 (17-26) 50.

PORTAGE (38): Troilisia Lacey 4-4-12, Kristen Cravens 3-0-8, Jordan Barnes 1-1-3, Diamond Howell-Geredine 2-1-5, Izzy Shields 2-0-4, Tatum Torres 1-0-2, Halle Rosado 0-2-2, Skylar Flanagan 0-0-0. TOTALS: 13 (7-12) 33.

FREE THROWS: CROWN POINT (17-24, 66.7%) Carrothers 6-10, Govert 4-6, Santiago 1-3, Abby Stoddard 4-4, Lilly Stoddard 2-4.

3-GOALS: CROWN POINT (4) Jessica Carrothers 2, Alyvia Santiago, Dash Shaw; PORTAGE (5) Troilisia Lacey 3, Kristen Cravens 2.


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Team /Record 1 2 3 4 Final
CROWN POINT (25-0) 9 16 15 18 58
CHESTERTON (18-6) 8 6 18 14 46

Saturday, February 8, 2020  - at IHSAA Class 4A, Sectional 2 Semifinal game at Portage High School in PORTAGE, IN

CHESTERTON (46): Ashley Craycraft 2-3-7, Nalani Malackowksi 3-4-11, Emma Schmidt 3-0-6, Carley Balas 7-6-20, Lauren Davis 1-0-2, Kaitlyn Carr 0-0-0, Sofia Raffin 0-0-0. TOTALS: 16 (13-22) 46.

CROWN POINT (58): Dash Shaw 3-2-9, Jessica Carrothers 8-0-20, Abby Stoddard 3-6-12, Lilly Stoddard 5-1-11, Allie Govert 3-0-6, Nikki Gerodemos 0-0-0, Alyvia Santiago 0-0-0. TOTALS: 22 (9-14) 58.

FREE THROWS: CHESTERTON (13-24, 54.1%) Balas 6-8, Craycraft 3-3, Malackowksi 4-9, Schmidt 0-4; CROWN POINT (9-14, 64.2%) Abby Stoddard 6-8, Lilly Stoddard 1-2, Shaw 2-3, Govert 0-1, Gerodemos 0-2.

3-GOALS: CHESTERTON (1) Nalani Malackowski. CROWN POINT (4) Jessica Carrothers 2, Abby Stoddard, Dash Shaw.


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PORTAGE (02-08-2020) Well, they did it again.

Crown Point’s Lady Bulldogs, two years living outside the laws of defeat, rode into town on steel horses. Two days later, battered and bruised and with a bit of a scare put behind them. The unbeaten outlaw girls rode home with what they came for, the Class 4A Sectional 2 championship.

After pulling away in the second quarter against a battling Chesterton team 58-46 in Friday’s semifinal, CP (26-0) faced their toughest test of the season against the host team, outscoring Portage 10-0 at the start of the fourth quarter to finally put down an Indian uprising 50-38 in Saturday’s championship game.

The Saturday game, played in front of over 1,000 fans in the old Portage gym, was the highlight of the sectional. The Indians’ 2-3 ‘matchup’ zone defense put CP’s hard-driving offense in the lock box for three periods, surrounding CP’s 6-foot-3 Lilly Stoddard and walling off dribble drive stars Jessica Carrothers and Dash Shaw.

But CP got the ball inside to Stoddard for two baskets, Shaw slipped inside for two more, Carrothers controlled the pace of the final minutes and hit her free throws and CP won back-to-back sectional championships for the first time since the 1990s.

The Lady Bulldogs fought off the idea of losing and the rowdy home crowd and won for the 54th time in their last 55 games.

“There’s always that thought,” said all-state guard Jessica Carrothers of getting beat. “But we really wanted it and we pulled together and we blocked out the negatives.”

CP won Class 4A Sectional 1 in 2019 and this year Sectional 2 put up much more of a fight.

Chesterton (18-6) and Portage (20-6) had strong teams that compiled outstanding won-loss records.

“It's different,” Carrothers said. “We have a lot of players who didn’t play last year. We really pulled together as a team because we didn’t want the season to end.”

CP coach Chris Seibert, who coached Portage for six seasons before coming to Crown Point, said he knew this weekend would be tough when he saw the draw.

“No doubt,” He said. “No doubt. We had a lot of courage and poise down the stretch. We were missing shots we’d made all year, but in the fourth quarter we stepped up. In the fourth quarter we got the ball inside to Lilly and that got us going.”

Crown Point trailed 7-2 early but Carrothers, CP’s 5-foot-6 sophomore lead guard who had an ice pack on her face after the Friday semifinals, led an 18-5 run that put CP ahead 18-12 with 4:46 before halftime. But Portage (20-6) packed their defense in close to the basket and denied everybody but Carrothers from getting easy baskets in close.

Senior shooter Kristin Cravens and quick ball-handler Troilisia Lacey combined for 15 first half points to pull the Indians even at halftime in front of a loud home crowd.

In the third quarter Lacey hit two three-point shots and a fast break basket by backup center Tatum Torres gave the home team a 31-30 lead with just eight minutes left in the game.

But CP scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter. Carrothers, an 88% foul shooter on the regular season, was 6-of-8 from the foul line and the CP girls will ride again at next Saturday’s LaPorte regional.

“She’s wise beyond her years,” said Seibert of Carrothers unusual calm. “I think that comes from her family. Her up-bringing. She’s stone cold out there. You wouldn’t know if she’s scored 30 points or five points. She stays at an even keel and that allows here to be consistent. She doesn't have the highs and lows that a lot of players have.”

CP didn’t play a great game. They didn’t shoot that well against the Portage defense. But Shaw and Lilly Stoddard made two fourth quarter field goals each. With encouragement from the visitors' bench.

“The first thing they said when I get to the bench is, ‘keep shooting’,” Dash said after the game. “You can't lose confidence. Some shots are better than others. Sometimes you can't get to the basket. But sometimes when you drive to the basket it opens things up for other people. Maybe it doesn't look like I always take the smartest shot, but you can't stop shooting.”

Now for the third time in two seasons, powerhouse Penn (24-2) tries to be the sheriff. Having failed twice to stop the ride of the CP girls through the northern half of the state, Penn gets a third shot at the Lady Bulldogs (26-0) in the Class 4A LaPorte Regional semifinals at 10 a.m. Saturday.

But CP, for all their tradition in girls basketball, had not won back-to-back sectional championships since the 1990s.

“It means a lot,” said Seibert. “We have a lot of girls who weren't here last year. Or they were here, but they were on the bench. Or they didn’t dress for the sectional. To be able to win a sectional in Indiana high school basketball it doesn’t get any better than this.”

DOG NOTES: Portage lost to CP 80-37 in December before almost pulling off the upset last Saturday. Coach Marc Burner explained.

“We lost our top two guard in that game,” he said. “Triolisia Lacey was carried off the floor. We were in no shape to play them after that.”

The 20 wins for Portage was the most in program history.

If Crown Point is eliminated from the 2020 state tournament it won't be by the team that beat them in 2019, last season’s eventual 4A state champion Hamilton Southeastern. HSE built a 21-5 second quarter lead on arch rival Fishers, but the Tigers rallied to beat the champs 50-42 in the Class 4A Sectional 8 championship game last Saturday night. Fishers' celebration won't last long. They face undefeated, top-ranked Northwestern (26-0) in the semifinals of the Marion regional this Saturday.

Crown Point’s Dash Shaw became, not only a four time sectional champ (the previous three with Gary West Side) but she is a rarity, a player who has started on a total of four sectional champs at two different schools.

She’s very proud of that.

“It means a lot,” Dash said. “I remember when I was a sophomore, we beat a team (Lighthouse) that had won three sectionals in a row. I can't even imagine the feeling of losing a sectional game because I’ve never lost a sectional. I don’t want our season to end anywhere. Most of all in the sectional.”

Coach Chris Seibert added,” She’s fearless. I don’t think anything is too big for her. She’s been through it all. She’s another one who is a calming influence for us. She doesn’t show a lot of emotion, but you could tell this meant a lot to her.”

After the game, I asked CP senior Abby Stoddard what, in retrospect, was a stupid question. She clearly was injured in the 58-46 win over Chesterton and limped through the second half of that game. Here's a girl that missed CP’s six-game run in the 2019 playoffs due to injury and I asked her if there was a chance she would come out of the championship game.

“Absolutely not,” Abby said. “Last night was a pretty rough game. But I was going to play and I’ll be ready next week. Last year they were playing for me. This year we’re playing for ‘Lena’”. ‘Lena’ is injured guard Alyna Santiago, who will miss the 2020 state tournament after ACL knee surgery.

CP outscored Chesterton 16-6 in the second quarter to put down the Trojans 58-46 in the Friday sectional semifinals. Carrothers scored seven of her 18 points in the second period and Lilly Stoddard blocked our shots in the first half. The 6-foot-3 center also grabbed nine rebounds as the CP defense held the Trojans to 16 of 41 (39.0%) shooting from the floor.

For the record, Crown Point was 26-0 when they won the single class state championship in 1984 but they were 25-4 when they won the 1985 state championship. The 2019-2020 Lady Bulldogs are the first CP team to complete undefeated regular seasons and win the sectional two years in a row. The last Indiana girls team to win every regular season game two years in a row was the 2009 and 2010 Class 4A state champion Ben Davis Giants. The 2009 Ben Davis team is the only team to ever go 30-0 in Indiana girls basketball.

Class 4A No. 2 CP and Class 4A No. 1 Northwestern stand at 26-0 with potentially, four games to play. This Saturday, CP faces 4A No. 6 Penn (25-2) Saturday while Northwestern, the Howard county school went of Kokomo that has won consecutive Class 3A state titles, meets 4A No. 4 Homestead (26-1). Broadcast Note: Our next Internet broadcast will be Saturday, Feb. 15 when the Crown Point Lady Bulldogs (26-0) play the Penn Lady Kingsmen (25-2) in the LaPorte Regional Semifinal at 10 a.m. CST. Our live coverage starts with the pregame show at 9:45 a.m. Crown Point would then play the winner of the second semifinal game matching up Munster (22-5) and LaPorte (18-7) Saturday evening at 7 p.m. Our Saturday night broadcast will start at 6:45 p.m. CST with the pregame show.

Coach: Chris Seibert, 103-27 in 5th year at school, 162-104 in 11th year overall
Nov. 9   Gary West 4A W 76 16    
Nov. 16   Hammond Morton 4A W 84 17    
Nov. 19   Andrean 2A W 77 30    
Nov. 23 N Warsaw 4A W 55 43   tournament
Nov. 23 N Northridge 4A W 68 43   tournament
Nov. 26   East Chicago Central 4A W 88 16    
Nov. 29   LaPorte 4A © W 76 49    
Nov. 30 N Castle 4A W 49 43   tournament
Nov. 30 N Columbus North 4A W 62 54   tournament
Dec. 3 at Lowell 4A W 70 18    
Dec. 6 at Portage 4A © W 80 37    
Dec. 7 N Fremd (Ill.) W 59 43    
Dec. 13   Valparaiso 4A © W 57 23    
Dec. 17 at Highland 4A W 72 17    
Dec. 20 at Lake Central 4A © W 71 39    
Dec. 27 N Salem 3A W 70 55   tournament
Dec. 27 N Penn 4A W 49 37   tournament
Jan. 10 at Michigan City 4A © W 77 48    
Jan. 11   Lafayette Jeff 4A W 84 28    
Jan. 14   Munster 4A W 52 33    
Jan. 18   Merrillville 4A © W 85 47    
Jan. 21 at Kankakee Valley 3A W 63 34    
Jan. 24   Chesterton 4A © W 60 33    
Jan. 29 at Hammond Noll 2A W 89 52    
Feb. 7 N Chesterton 4A W 58 46   sectional
Feb. 8 at Portage 4A W 50 38   sectional
Feb. 15 N Penn 4A 10:00 am   regional

Coach: Jack Campbell, 398-300 in 32nd year at school
Nov. 7 at Highland 4A W 34 17    
Nov. 15   Munster 4A L 45 50    
Nov. 16 at Mishawaka 4A W 60 15    
Nov. 19 at Hammond Morton 4A W 55 21    
Nov. 22   South Central (Union Mills) 2A W 58 40    
Nov. 27   Lake Central 4A © W 57 53 2OT  
Dec. 3 at East Chicago Central 4A W 68 29    
Dec. 6 at Michigan City 4A © W 61 38    
Dec. 11 at Plymouth 4A W 58 51 2OT  
Dec. 13   Portage 4A © L 49 57    
Dec. 20 at Valparaiso 4A © W 50 40    
Dec. 23   Kankakee Valley 3A W 48 43    
Jan. 4 at Warsaw 4A W 56 53   tournament
Jan. 4 N Huntington North 4A L 27 43   tournament
Jan. 8   Gary West 4A W 61 34    
Jan. 10 at Merrillville 4A © W 42 39    
Jan. 14   Hobart 4A W 62 27    
Jan. 17   LaPorte 4A © W 46 45    
Jan. 21 at Hammond Noll 2A W 49 45    
Jan. 24 at Crown Point 4A © L 33 60    
Jan. 28 at Knox 3A L 31 39    
Jan. 31   Andrean 2A W 42 36    
Feb. 4 N Lowell 4A W 54 26   sectional
Feb. 7 N Crown Point 4A L 46 58   sectional

Coach: Marc Bruner, 71-60 in 5th year at school, 125-135 in 11th year overall
Nov. 5 at Andrean 2A W 58 56    
Nov. 9   Oregon-Davis 1A W 71 52    
Nov. 16   North Judson 2A L 53 56    
Nov. 23 at Hammond Noll 2A W 65 49    
Nov. 27   Michigan City 4A © W 63 27    
Nov. 30   LaCrosse 1A W 73 36    
Dec. 6   Crown Point 4A © L 37 80    
Dec. 13 at Chesterton 4A © W 57 49    
Dec. 14 at Elkhart Central 4A W 64 61    
Dec. 18   Hobart 4A W 79 52    
Dec. 20 at LaPorte 4A © L 52 66    
Dec. 27 N East Noble 4A W 38 25   tournament
Dec. 27 at Northridge 4A L 42 51   tournament
Dec. 28 N South Bend St. Joseph 3A L 52 53   tournament
Dec. 28 N Andrean 2A W 35 33   tournament
Jan. 3 N Munster 4A W 57 31   tournament
Jan. 3 N McCutcheon 4A W 76 49   tournament
Jan. 4 N Winamac 2A W 44 30   tournament
Jan. 4 at Lake Central 4A W 60 56 OT tournament
Jan. 10 at Valparaiso 4A © W 63 61    
Jan. 18   Lake Central 4A © W 58 39    
Jan. 22   Gary West 4A W 76 30    
Jan. 25 at Merrillville 4A © W 57 54    
Jan. 30   Kankakee Valley 3A W 66 43    
Feb. 7   Valparaiso 4A W 66 46   sectional
Feb. 8   Crown Point 4A L 38 50   sectional

Crown Point's Next Opponent at Regional Semifinal:

Coach: Kristi Kaniewski Ulrich, 254-31 in 11th year at school
Nov. 7   LaPorte 4A W 61 49    
Nov. 9   NorthWood 3A W 51 33    
Nov. 15   South Bend Riley 4A © W 81 30    
Nov. 22 at Bremen 2A © W 46 39    
Nov. 23 at Lake Central 4A W 60 26    
Nov. 26 at Warsaw 4A W 41 28    
Nov. 30 at Lafayette Jeff 4A W 64 28    
Dec. 3 at Mishawaka Marian 3A © W 53 33    
Dec. 6   Jimtown 3A © W 85 13    
Dec. 9 at South Bend Clay 3A © W 84 24    
Dec. 14 at Merrillville 4A W 45 37    
Dec. 17   Northridge 4A W 66 34    
Dec. 20   South Bend Washington 3A © W 48 41    
Dec. 27 N Brownsburg 4A W 43 40   tournament
Dec. 27 N Crown Point 4A L 37 49   tournament
Jan. 4 at Carmel 4A L 40 44    
Jan. 7   New Prairie 3A © W 60 27    
Jan. 9 at South Bend Adams 4A © W 62 33    
Jan. 11   Carroll (Fort Wayne) 4A W 62 35    
Jan. 14   Elkhart Central 4A © W 57 41    
Jan. 17   John Glenn 3A © W 62 27    
Jan. 18 at Fort Wayne South 4A W 64 53    
Jan. 23 at South Bend St. Joseph 3A © W 54 41    
Jan. 30   Mishawaka 4A © W 74 17    
Feb. 5 N Northridge 4A W 65 42   sectional
Feb. 7 N Goshen 4A W 49 19   sectional
Feb. 8 at Warsaw 4A W 45 44   sectional
Feb. 15 N Crown Point 4A 11:00 am   regional