MERRILLVILLE — It was a frustrating game all around for Michigan City in a 76-39 loss to Merrillville Friday night.
Midway through the third quarter, already in the midst of what would be a 47-20 run in the middle periods, Pirates forward Demiah Hawkins drove into the middle of the lane in search of a layup. Wolves forward Trinity Thompson stood her ground in the middle with her arms up straight.
What looked like a perfectly-defended play ended up with a foul on Thompson — her all-important fourth. A furious Michigan City coach Mike Megyese sprinted toward the middle of the court where the referee was making his foul call, and unloaded on him.
A minute of heated tirade followed, forcing another referee to call a technical foul on Megyese. Four uncontested free throws followed, and Merrillville made three with possession of the ball afterward. Torri Miller — who had 22 points, six steals five rebounds and three assists on the night — drove the lane and kicked it out to Amani Alvarez in the right corner. She was wide open and connected for three points and a quick six on the board for Merrillville following the two fouls the previous possession.
The Pirates forced a turnover on the Wolves' following possession, turning it into two points. What was a feasible 11-point game just 30 seconds prior turned into a 19-point blowout in a hurry. A charge call against Thompson with 1.1 seconds remaining in the third quarter fouled her out of the game, and all of a sudden, Michigan City was without its best player down a gaping 24-point deficit.
"I usually don't get this angry with the referees, but tonight was different," Megyese said. "Just let the girls play. (The referees) tried to be too much in control tonight and it hurt us. I mean, two of Trinity's fouls called against her were very iffy. It's just frustrating when referees don't let the girls play out there. No discredit to Merrillville, though. They're a really good team and deserved to win."
The Wolves' 37-point loss didn't look like it would be that way from the start, though. In fact, it was Michigan City (5-7, 0-4 Duneland Athletic Conference) who took command in the first quarter.
Katelyn Halfacre was off to a red-hot start, totaling 10 points in the first eight minutes. She and Thompson each started off shooting the ball efficiently, going 7-for-8 from the field, accounting for all of the Wolves' 16 first-quarter points.
But the Pirates implemented a full-court press that threw Michigan City's offense off for the remainder of the game. Turnovers came aplenty throughout the next three quarters, as Merrillville accumulated 18 steals.
"We're a really young team," Thompson said. "There's a lot of girls that are playing varsity for the first time this year. We've only had a few months to play together and when a team applies a lot of pressure like they did, it makes it hard for us. We just get in our heads and get down a lot easier, but that's something that will improve with time. Overall, I'm happy with the way we fought. They're a really good team."
While Thompson and Halfacre have been the leaders of this team and know they have to produce gaudy numbers night in and night out, they still aren't enough to take down Merrillville (8-2, 3-1 DAC). The Wolves need more production from their role players, but players not named Thompson or Halfacre combined for just eight points.
"Katelyn and Trinity are both amazing players," Megyese said. "But we need the other girls to step up when they're not having their best nights. We didn't get the production we needed from everyone else and we paid the price."
Fatigue could have played a large part in Michigan City's loss as well. It was their third game in four nights and second in as many days. It was the Pirates' first game of the week, pinning fresh legs and bodies against some tired ones.
"It's hard when that's our third game in four days," Thompson said. "Especially when this is their first game of the week. No excuses though. We needed to come out with the same energy they did all night, and we didn't. But we'll learn from this."
Merrillville 76, Michigan City 39
The Pirates outscored the Wolves 47-20 in the second and third quarters.