ST. JOHN | As far as nonconference rivalries that don’t involve teams from the cities go, Munster and Lake Central might bring out the zaniest atmospheres for games.
This boys basketball matchup, which often renews itself in March, is made for prime time.
On a Tuesday in December it prompted parking scarcity, the need for extra seating on the baseline with standing-room spots necessary and attendance from players on other teams throughout the area.
Throw in a halftime ring ceremony for the state champion Lake Central baseball team, and this game had it all.
Well, minus one head coach and one team’s ability to slow the other team’s transition offense.
With a complementary rabid fan base, Times No. 3 Munster (6-3) got in the passing lanes and turned defense into offense and beat host No. 7 Lake Central 67-57 to remain unbeaten.
The Indians (3-4) cut the lead down late in the fourth, pulling within six with 58 seconds to play, but the Mustangs were relentless.
The Munster lead grew to as many as 18 in the second half after it took a 34-21 lead into halftime.
Munster senior Mike Schlotman canned three 3-pointers on his way to 19 points before fouling out in the final minute, but guard Drew Hackett led the Mustangs with 23 points, including 12-of-14 shooting on free throws.
The Mustangs made 26 of their 37 free-throw attempts, including makes on their first 12. The ‘Stangs also had a dozen steals and 13 assists, compared to just six and six, respectively, for the Indians.
Lake Central’s final lead was when the Indians were up 19-18 in the second quarter. A 16-2 Munster run ensued, keyed by 3-pointers by Hackett and Schlotman, and the Indians scrambled to catch up to the Mustangs.
Indians coach Dave Milausnic was serving a mandatory one-game suspension after being ejected from Friday’s game at Merrillville after two technical fouls for arguing calls. Junior varsity coach Andrew Locke called the plays and managed the game in Milausnic’s stead.
Sophomore Joe Bannister led the Indians with 18 points, and Tye Wilburn had 16 on 6-of-17 shooting.
Munster’s Craig Dedelow had five points, five rebounds, four assists and five steals.
As grueling as the contest on the court was, the rival student cheering sections were in postseason form.
After the halftime ring ceremony, Munster’s fans chanted, “We got laptops,” to which the L.C. faithful replied, “We got rings.”
Lake Central guard Robert Ryan looks somewhat like Chicago rap star Chief Keef, whose hits include a song called “Love Sosa.” When Ryan checked in, the Munster crowd yelled, “We hate Sosa.” L.C. echoed with “We love Sosa.”