GARY | Jordan Minch tasted defeat at the hands of Lowell earlier this season, so the Highland senior's hunger to take the court against the Red Devils again was nearly insatiable.
Minch scored 17 points on 6-8 shooting for the Trojans, helping them dispatch Lowell, 60-54, in an opening game of the Class 4A West Side Sectional.
"They beat us during the season, so I was really looking forward to playing them," Minch said. "I was feeling great. We've really been preparing for them since last week."
Falling behind 45-41 at one point in the fourth quarter, Highland was able to fight back with an 11-3 run and take a 52-48 lead in the waning minutes of the game.
During that stretch, Highland's AJ Kowalkowski capped his only offense of the game with two big 3-pointers, swinging the momentum in the Trojans' favor.
"Those were huge," Highland coach Eddie Fierek said. "I told him earlier 'AJ, if you get a look, knock it down.' That was big, because they came back down and hit a three."
Highland was able to take advantage of Lowell's sloppy offensive ball movement in the first half. While the Red Devils (9-12) were an efficient 56 percent from the floor, Highland was able force nine turnovers, seven of them coming in the first quarter.
In contrast, the Trojans (16-6), shot 52 percent, but committed just four turnovers while committing no fouls.
One big key in Highland's win was its first half defense on Lowell's Kyle Richwalski. The Trojans limited the center to only four points and two rebounds. Richwalski lit up Highland for 14 points in the second half and finished with 10 rebounds.
"We were really worried about their shooters," Fierek said. "Richwalski, we can live with him scoring 18 and 10 (rebounds), just because of how big he is."
Highland will face West Side on Friday, 57-47 winners over Morton in the nightcap.
The Cougars relied heavily upon the efforts of Arnold Wilson, who scored 16 points. Jare' Glover also scored all 10 of his points before halftime.
"That was huge," West Side coach Winston Garland said of Wilson. "That's our junkyard dog. He's going to bang, and he's going to scrap."
Along with Wilson and Glover, Regan Atkins scored 12 points to enter double-figures.
Morton's Vasha Davis led his team with 13 points.