GARY | After dismantling Morton in the semifinals, Lake Central coach Dave Milausnic wanted his team to maintain the same high energy level on Saturday and play like it loves basketball.
It would be like arm-wrestling Julius Peppers.
Standing between the defending champion Indians and a trip to the regional was unbeaten Munster, which had won 114 of its last 124 games.
Coming in, the Mustangs were 15-10 against Lake Central in 25 previous meetings. Milausnic was shooting for the school's 10th sectional title, Munster its ninth.
When the dust cleared, Julius Peppers had prevailed.
Robert Ryan's turnover with 48.4 seconds remaining in regulation gave Munster new life in overtime and the Mustangs hit eight of 12 free throws to pull out an incredible 43-41 victory before a crowd of 4,000.
Munster (25-0) faces Merrillville (20-3) in Game 2 of next weekend's Michigan City Regional.
"This group ... we've been winning these types of games all year," coach Mike Hackett said amid a wild postgame celebration.
"Tonight, with about 2 1/2 (minutes) to go (in regulation) and down five or six (points), I told the guys all we've got to do is get two scores in a row to be back in it."
After each sectional win, he would shout out the number of wins needed to capture the 4A title in Indianapolis. He'd do it in the locker room, in front of his players, and away from crowds.
That number is now "4."
"We don't want to lose," said Mike Schlotman, who led the Mustangs with 15 points, seven rebounds and was 4-of-6 from the line in OT. "It's sectionals and anything can happen. Tonight was crazy."
Munster, shooting 36 percent beyond the arc this season, wasn't Milausnic's first concern. He said in the pregame that containing 6-foot-6 forward Nate Bubash would allow his defense to play Munster's perimeter shooters closer.
The Mustangs led 22-21 at the half. Bubash hadn't attempt a shot and was scoreless, as was L.C.'s 6-7 Tyler Wideman.
You want more defense?
The third quarter went to L.C., 8-3. Bubash had yet to score while Wideman had a basket and three fouls before fouling out with 16.7 remaining in the extra period.
Drew Hackett added 14 points for Munster. Mike Miklusak led L.C. (15-8) with 10. Wideman finished with eight points and eight rebounds.
"We expect to play well every game because we practice so hard," Schlotman said. "We expect to win."