EAST CHICAGO | Here we go again.
Defending champion Munster beat Morton for the 17th consecutive time to open Tuesday's 4A East Chicago Sectional.
In Friday's semifinals, the Mustangs risked a 15-game winning streak against Lowell that dated back to 2002.
Remember that tired, old sports cliche? In the postseason, everyone is 0-0.
That kept the fire burning for Lowell until Munster pulled away late in the fourth quarter to claim a 57-48 win behind Drew Hackett's 21 points.
Munster and Lake Central will decide tonight's championship in a 7:30 tipoff.
In Game 2 Friday, Tyler Wideman was unstoppable with his 25 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots in keying the 70-57 win over East Chicago before an estimated crowd of 5,000.
The Indians (18-3) avenged an earlier loss to Central (12-10) by converting 28 of 37 free throws in the rematch, including 17 of 23 in the pivotal fourth quarter.
Lake Central beat Munster 47-38 back in December.
"This was our 24th game and we still haven't played our best," coach Mike Hackett said after disposing of Lowell. "We played better than Tuesday night (against Morton) but we're still making silly, costly mistakes."
The Red Devils (16-5), with three players fouling out, got no closer than eight points the final period as Munster used 9-of-11 foul shooting to keep Lowell at bay.
"Our focus and execution was better," Mike Hackett said. "That's a good Lowell team. We knew it wouldn't be a blowout (79-59) like the last time."
Added Drew Hackett: "Defensive stops. That was our goal. They don't rush on offense so when we got the ball, we couldn't rush either.
"That way, if we have the lead, they can't stall."
Nikola Mandic had 10 points for Munster (20-4) and Pat McCarthy grabbed nine rebounds.
Zack Van Hook led Lowell with 15 points, but missed 11 of 17 shots. William Barker added 11.
Lake Central survived a wild fourth quarter that featured 36 free throws. Robert "Scooter" Ryan added 11 points, sinking 8 of 9 foul shots in the period.
"My job is to provide energy and take control of the offense," said the reliable reserve. "I work on my ballhandling every day and Coach makes us shoot 100 free throws every day, which is why I was able to knock down those clutch shots."
Hyron Edwards' 19 points, 15 coming in the final quarter, led the Cardinals. Damien Jefferson had 13 to go with his 11 rebounds.
"It was just a tough game," L.C. coach Dave Milausnic understated. "They played tough. We played tough. The kids just went after each other.
"Scooter was huge. You have to have a handful of ballhandlers, especially with East Chicago's versatility."