LOWELL | There was one singular reason to drive to Lowell on Friday night. It was to take in the West Side-Lake Central Class 4A sectional semifinal showdown.
On paper, there was no other reason to attend “The Pit.”
It was one of Indiana's marquee matchups without question.
These old shoes shuffled in a little early to yawn and watch Lowell play Morton in the other semifinal. The notepad wasn't taken out of the bag until the second quarter.
But, the pen didn't stop dancing until the heart-stopping, pulse-pounding 37-36 win by the Red Devils was done.
Lowell beat Morton by 40 in the season opener.
Yes, West Side's 60-56 win over the Indians was an unbelievable contest between two great teams. Dana Evans led a great team effort.
But so, too, did Morton's Tatyana Skinner. You know who she is, right? Me neither before Friday night.
“On the bus ride down one of our girls asked what percentage we had of winning,” Skinner said. “Coach (Tom Haluska) yelled, '100 percent.' That's when we started to believe.”
Lowell won the game, but the Governors absolutely outplayed the more talented Red Devils.
This tournament has been going on since 1976. Millions of fans have watched thousands of players make magic in Hoosier Her-steria. Most remember the best of the best.
But every year in the postseason there are two or three upsets that shake the foundation. That's why people buy the tickets.
Near upsets also sell tickets, but the fans from Hammond felt their team should've won.
“I apologized to the girls in the locker room after the game,” Haluska said.
In my opinion, no apology was necessary.
With 7:20 left in the third quarter and holding a three-point lead, Haluska was called for a technical foul. I heard what he said. He didn't swear. He just asked the official to make the same call on his end of the court. Twice.
Without a warning, the whistle blew and the “Model T” drove into the game. That one free throw in that call was the difference in the game.
Plus, Lowell's win came on a foul called with one second left in the game on a baseline jumpshot. You don't see that called too often either.
“Nothing is guaranteed,” Haluska said, taking the high road.
Yes, the Govs could've done a lot more to take the call out of the game. They did not get hosed. But when you make up a 40-point blowout and have a chance to win, you need a break or two.
They didn't get it.
Haluska credited senior Alexis Casas for showing great leadership in turning this thing around. Senior Rayann Johnston rebounded like a bandit.
Sophomore Timiya Ray also played with great courage and effort.
Haluska showed the E.C. Central tape to his kids, a loss in the regular season, and the Govs said, “We can play better than that.” He showed them the tape of the 40-point blowout to Lowell and the girls said, “Shut it off, we're way better now.”
They proved it on Friday night. They left everything on the floor.
“We wanted this so bad,” Skinner said. “We believed we could beat them.”
Some say they did, no matter what the scoreboard said.