ST. JOHN | The questions on everyone’s minds entering Thursday’s showdown surrounded the words react, rebound and respond.
As in, how will Lake Central perform any of those actions, in a bigger picture sense, two days after a surprising 58-50 loss at E.C. Central. How would the Indians embody those verbs against a Michigan City squad off to the best start since Elston and Rogers consolidated in 1995?
All this set the stage for senior night, when Tyler Wideman, Tye Wilburn, five other players and a host of supporters were honored in a pregame ceremony.
The stakes and intensity were equally high, but Lake Central responded time and time again to hold on for a 70-52 win over the visiting Wolves in Duneland Athletic Conference action Thursday night.
The win gives Lake Central (14-3, 6-0) no worse than a share of the DAC title. The Wolves, whose only conference championship was a shared one in 1998, need to win their next two and hope Lake Central falls in its final league effort Feb. 21 at Crown Point.
The same seniors honored pregame received a salute with 40 seconds to go when they exited the game.
Lake Central stopped and started runs of dominant play. The Indians led 23-16 after a quarter and then seemed to take complete control when they went up 37-20 on a Wilburn basket early in the second period.
That Lake Central surge included a technical foul on Michigan City coach John Boyd and two subsequent free throws.
However, Michigan City refused to go away and ran off 15 consecutive unanswered points, including a dunk by Keenan Simmons, whose two blocks and six points were essential to the run. The Indians scored in the final seconds on a Wilburn layup and led 39-35 at the break.
The key to handing City (11-5, 4-1) its first conference defeat was Tyler Wideman. After a relatively quiet first half, he hit bucket after bucket in the third to help the Indians’ lead surge into double figures once again. This time it was for good.
Wideman finished with 17 points, matching Wilburn and Michigan City’s Simmons for game high.
Tyler Ross had 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Indians, who outscored the Wolves 31-17 after halftime.
Simmons had 10 rebounds and was the only City player in double figures in points.