CROWN POINT | As he prepared to exit the game and sit with the rest of his deep senior class, Lake Central point guard Tye Wilburn smiled and motioned to the press table to make sure the statisticians from his school knew he had assisted on the latest bucket.
His sixth and final helper of the game was not a major bookkeeping point because by that point in the fourth quarter the Indians had firmly secured a lopsided 77-43 win over host Crown Point and their second Duneland Athletic Conference championship in the last three seasons.
“It’s a great honor not only for us but the school that we wear on our chests,” Wilburn said. “I’m happy that we can represent (Lake Central) well and try to keep bringing back as many trophies as we can.”
Wilburn had 13 points, six assists and five rebounds, and all the L.C. starters scored in double digits, academic numbers in what coach Dave Milausnic called his team’s most efficient and consistent 32 minutes to date.
“A lot of teams come out with the goal of winning the DAC, and let me tell you, it is awful tough to do it and go 7-0,” Milausnic said. “Every team in this conference is well-coached with 4A athletes, and we were fortunate to pull together and finish this.”
The game was tied at 10 in the first quarter before Lake Central took off and never looked back, both in the game and on the bevy of fast breaks the Indians found themselves running.
“We’re a good team when we are getting the ball out on the break,” Wilburn said. “We’ve really been drilling all season and sharpening our offense.”
Tyler Wideman, who led all scorers with 19 points to go with six rebounds and three assists, had 15 points by halftime. His points came on dunks, short jumpers and steals that easily became layups.
L.C.’s Tyler Ross, Joe Bannister and Cory Dickelman (four offensive rebounds) scored 10 points each, doing most of their damage early.
“Even when Crown Point got a couple early big shots, we didn’t panic; we came down and did what we do,” Milausnic said. “I liked the fact that we had a big lead but weren’t sloppy with the big lead. Every possession we made an effort.”
By the end of one quarter it was 20-12, and by halftime Lake Central (15-3, 7-0) had doubled Crown Point’s score at 42-21. By the middle of the third, the second unit for L.C. was getting quality tick, and fans were taking off early to avoid potholes en masse.
The fourth quarter allowed the deep end of L.C.’s bench to run the floor as the seniors watched from the sideline.
“Those guys provide great energy,” Wilburn said. “They’re great role players, and we go at each other hard every day, which helps us not slack off.”
Lake Central held Crown Point (9-8, 3-4) to five 3-pointers made and only 15 total field goals on 41.7 percent shooting. C.P. had 19 turnovers to L.C.’s seven.
The biggest bright spot for the Bulldogs, aside from some major downtown 3-point bombs by Grant Gelon (14 points) was the improved inside play of Nick Jeffirs, who had 17 points and eight rebounds despite being frequently matched up with Wideman.
"Nick just keeps getting better," C.P. coach Clint Swan said. "He was better at the start of the year than he was last year and he's better now than he was at the start of this year. He just keeps battling and battling."