GRIFFITH | Lake Central has many weapons in its basketball arsenal.
Three-point shooting, fluid ball movement and strong two-way post play are chief among the Indians’ assets.
Add a suffocating press, and less-experienced opponents are at their mercy.
Wednesday night’s season opener between a pair of 2012-13 sectional champions was an exhibition of the many presses Lake Central has and the way it can create a spiral of miscues for its foes.
The Times No. 3 Indians forced 36 turnovers and routed host Griffith 72-23.
“We want to keep the offense on its toes and make them go over a lot of new things so that they never know what we’re going to throw at them,” said Lake Central junior Gina Rubino, who led all scorers with 16 points, including four 3-pointers.
While Rolanda Curington and Rachel Bell combined for nine of Lake Central’s 21 steals, Rubino was a beneficiary of so many Indians possessions.
With the ball moving around the horn, Rubino eagerly waited -- much like she had been waiting for the dawn of the regular season -- on the 3-point arc and anticipated the pass while keeping a mental rhythm.
“I had to keep the focus in warm-ups, getting my feet set and hands ready,” Rubino said. “I had to make sure everything was focused, maintain all the little things and not go outside my normal range and know what I can do.”
The Indians (1-0) scored the game’s first nine points and held the Panthers (0-1) without a point for the first 3:31 on the way to a 19-5 lead through one and a 35-14 halftime advantage.
Rubino had 14 of her 16 points at halftime, and L.C. finished 11-for-23 from 3-point range.
“Our girls did a good job getting the ball moving, and (Rubino) did a good job knocking down shots,” L.C. coach Marc Urban said. “It’s always nice to get that first (game) in. Every year it’s nice to get that first win under your belt. I thought the girls played really hard.”
Tara Zlotkowski hit three treys to finish with 15 points, and Bell added 10 to a balanced scoring attack.
“Everyone played their role well and was really unselfish,” Urban said.
The formula is the same annually for Griffith. Coach Tom Golumbeck always says his team will take its lumps early and strive to peak in the postseason. Wednesday’s loss, a second consecutive season-opening romp at the hands of Lake Central, was a large hematoma. Yet it’s part of the big picture for the Panthers.
“For this early in the season we’re happy with the way we competed,” Golumbeck said. “We’re looking for effort and trying to do what we’ve worked on in practice. This is a starting point, and we’ve just got to continue to improve.”
Both teams were rusty, with sub-60 percent free throw shooting and sub-50 field goal shooting, but by the game’s end, none of the whistles used by the officials were rusty. Had there been any rust in them pre-game, it would have been blown clean out by game’s end with 40 total fouls called.
Griffith’s Courtney Bell hit nine free throws on the way to 14 points.