WESTVILLE — Teams run with Kouts at their own peril, and unless they're Class A No. 1 Gary 21st Century, they usually pay the price.
Westville did Friday, keeping the fifth-ranked Mustangs (6-0, 3-0 Porter County Conference) in their sights for about a quarter-and-a-half before they hit the accelerator and raced away to win 73-46.
"We like those teams who want to run up and down the floor with us," Kouts coach Kevin Duzan said. "I felt that, of our three road games we've had in a row, we ran better here than the other games. Part of that is how the other team played us. That was a point of emphasis this week. We told them, '(Westville) will run if we run.' We condition, run a lot in practice, so come the fourth quarter, we're still going. We did a good job executing that game plan and Westville allowed us to do that."
A good start was about all the Blackhawks had to hang their hat on in the game. They jumped in front 10-4 before the Mustangs' initial push put them ahead. Westville (3-5, 1-2) hit three first-quarter treys and 11 points by Josh DeChantal yet still lagged 24-20.
"We came out and played really well, shot it well," Blackhawks coach Drew Eubank said. "Even throughout the game, I thought we had long stretches where we were pretty good."
Westville trailed 32-24 before a half-ending 8-0 run broke its back. DeChantal was whistled for his third foul, trying to clear space in close quarters after a rebound, then was tagged for a technical (and his fourth foul) with 1:35 to go. Also T'd up the prior Saturday at Portage, DeChantal didn't play in the second half.
"We've talked a thousand times about controlling the things you can control," Eubank said. "I'm not saying any calls weren't the right call, but you have to be able to handle any adversity. Your head's got to be in the right place to play basketball. Sometimes you've got to re-adjust. Even the official said, he's a captain, I expect more from him. You don't need to say anything. I told the kids who are new to the PCC who don't understand how intense it is, you have to keep your composure. (Kouts plays) hard, they get their hands on you, it's a physical game, but we've seen it enough where we should be beyond that."
The spread was 19 (47-28) in the third quarter when Daijon Reddix was called also for a charge and his reaction drew a technical as well. The two fouls gave him five.
"The thing is, we've got really good kids," Eubank said. "If that's your first time coming in our gym, that might not be what you think. I hate when people see a negative side. You have to act the right way all the time, represent ourselves and the school better. For the most part, we do that. Not everything in life's how you think it should be. It's not always fair in your mind. You have to play through it. We forget they're (teenage) kids. Every game they play is the most important game in their life, but you also have to have the perspective that it's a game."
The margin promptly swelled to 25 and peaked at 28.
"They do take pride in the fact they can run people off the floor," Duzan said of his team. "They like to do that. When you're getting beaten up and down the floor consistently, it gets frustrating. I told them, they will run with us the first half and the second half, they won't be able to keep up with us. If we take a 10-point lead, make it 15, 16, 18, kids will break. I know. We've been there."
To make matters worse for Westville, it lost Carlin Young to a knee injury in the second half. DeChantal's 14 points led the Blackhawks, despite his second-half sitdown. Deemeco McCoy notched 13 and Jace Woods 11.
The Wireman twins, Cole and Cale, carried Kouts with 27 and 15 points, respectively. Connor McCormack added 13.
"If we can rebound, we've got four guys who can take it and go, and Connor runs well for a big man," Duzan said. "We play hard. I'm proud how our guys kept their cool when it easily could've gone the other way."
Kouts 73, Westville 46
Deemeco McCoy had 13 points and six rebounds in the loss.