ST. JOHN — On a night that featured flipping cheerleaders, a dancing duet and a host of entertaining sidelights, one of the most memorable moves came when Chesterton’s five starters slapped the floor in unison while getting back on defense a few possessions into Friday's game.
“We had to just be us,” Trojans senior Ky Palombizio said.
At the time the Trojans were smacking the floor, they were also slapping Lake Central shots out of the air and holding the Indians without a rebound for the first 6:56 of the contest.
Despite numerous major runs by the host Indians, Times No. 3 Chesterton was able to pull away in the fourth quarter and capture a 60-53 Duneland Athletic Conference road win over No. 7 L.C. on Friday night.
“Once we took care of the ball in the second half, we started exploding with the ball,” said Palombizio, who led the Trojans with 18 points, including eight in a torrid first quarter in which Chesterton made its first nine shots.
“We have to be unselfish with the ball. The more touches it gets, the more the ball gets energy, and it seems like the hoop just opens up.”
Kinetic energy flowed as Chesterton began the game up 22-6 without a miss. Chesterton never trailed in the game, but Lake Central tied the game at 30 in the opening minute of the second half and began a back-and-forth battle.
The score was tied at 37 when sophomore Jake Wadding, who had 11 points for the Trojans, scored the go-ahead hoop late in the third quarter.
“We just keep growing as a team,” said Chesterton coach Marc Urban, who used to coach the girls team at L.C.
“We gave a good punch early, took some shots later, and grinded it out and did a good job down the stretch.”
Chesterton (14-2, 3-1) extended the lead to 42-37 on a three-point play by Austin Peterson and had breathing room for the first time since early in the second quarter.
Peterson, who had 14 points and eight rebounds, pumped his fist after banking a turnaround shot off the glass from the lower block and drawing the foul.
“It’s just a matter of my teammates having trust in me being able to finish there,” Peterson said. “It felt like just another play, but we were trying to make a move at that point. We have a couple seniors who are able to make plays, and our younger guys are not playing like they’re young anymore.”
The closest Lake Central (9-7, 1-2) got in the fourth quarter, where Chesterton led by as many as 10, was six points away.
Justin Graciano had just four points in the first half while guarding the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Peterson, but led the Indians with 19 points. When L.C. was digging into the lead, Indians senior Keon Sellers got in passing lanes at half-court for breakaway dunks, three times in all, and finished with 14 points, four steals and five rebounds.
“When we play well, we get a little emotional and impatient at times, and that kills our momentum,” Lake Central coach Dave Milausnic said. “There were large chunks of that game where we played good basketball. When we learn to trust ourselves and realize that we are good basketball players, we are going to put things together.”