Boys basketball

Lake Central finally ends state finals jinx with semistate victory

2014-03-22T23:45:00Z 2014-03-28T23:47:11Z Lake Central finally ends state finals jinx with semistate victoryAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
March 22, 2014 11:45 pm  • 

LAFAYETTE | All that was missing was a giant beanstalk through the roof of the Lafayette Jeff Fieldhouse, and maybe some beans scattered along the court.

Saturday's 4A Lafayette Semistate was a battle in the Land of The Giants for Lake Central, which blew away Homestead 79-57 for its first trip to the state finals in 30 years.

Those first two quarters, though, were an uphill climb against a Spartans' team that featured two 6-foot-8 players in sophomore Caleb Swanigan and junior Dana Batt.

"I played against (Swanigan) in AAU and he's a lot more physical now," said LC's 6-7 Tyler Wideman, who scored 14 points but didn't grab his first rebound until 6:30 of the final quarter. "We rebound as a team and I think he started getting frustrated by the way we play defense."

The heavier Swanigan led Homestead (20-8) with 22 points and 13 rebounds, but missed 12 of his 20 shots and showed late fatigue. Batt had a game-high four blocks.

"He's got 45 pounds on Wideman, seriously," LC coach Dave Milausnic said of Swanigan. "He didn't have a good rebounding day but we collectively have a lot of guys who get 4-5 rebounds a game.

"We fly around, so consequently get a lot of rebounds as a team."

Tyler Ross added 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Indians (22-3), who shot .474 from deep.

It was no tea party under the basket for him, either, trying to stop Homestead's two giants.

"This (Swanigan) kid was HUGE. In all my four years of high school ball, I've never played against anyone that big," Ross said. "We tried to simulate that size in practice, using our big guys and battling.

"With our amount of experience – seven seniors – we know what has to be done. I wanted to get in there and do the dirty work. That's my job."

Leading 27-25 at the half, Lake Central blew it open by hammering Homestead 52-32 after intermission, with guard Joe Bannister getting 15 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter.

"I let the game come to me. I didn't force anything," Bannister said. "Coach told us to play hard and play defense and that's all we'd need; treat the next possession like it's the last possession of your life.

"We've been working on that all season."

That mindset has helped the Indians keep both feet on the ground amid extremely high expectations.

"It's never gone to our heads, whether we're playing a team that's top 10 in the state or not rated," Bannister said.

Guard Ty Wilburn caught fire the second half, scoring 12 of his 15 points to go with eight rebounds to help secure L.C.'s ninth straight win.

The Duneland Athletic Conference reps also showed great poise with only eight turnovers.

"My first year, I might've thought about (high expectations) and what everyone was saying," Milausnic said. "But now, all I think about is what my staff and my administrators think.

"That makes life easier."

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