KOUTS | Louis Brown's veins matched the temperature gauge on Friday night at 28 degrees.
At two big moments with Morgan Twp. breathing down its neck, Brown went to the foul line and hit four free throws and also had a massive game-changing block to propel Gary 21st Century over the upstart Cherokees 54-48 in the second semifinal of the Kouts Sectional.
"He played like a big boy tonight and I'm really proud of him," Century coach Rodney Williams said of Brown, who had 10 points and five blocks.
The Cougars (14-7) went 8-of-9 at the foul line in the fourth quarter alone after shooting just one total free throw in the first three periods combined.
"We've been such a poor free throw team and that's the first time we've shot 80 percent at the free throw line," said Williams.
Down 39-32 at one point, Morgan Twp. (6-15) went on a 10-0 run, which included back-to-back baskets from standout guard Ryan Klikus, who surpassed the 1,000-point career mark with his 18.
Century will face Washington Twp., who defeated Lacrosse 65-45 behind junior Brandon Adkins' 28 points in the first game.
The Senator junior scored 22 points in the second half on his way to the game high.
"Our team did a nice job of passing him the ball in rhythm," Senators coach Soctt Bowersock said. "With Brandon being a streaky shooter, once he hits two, that can turn into three, four, and five."
Lacrosse (3-17) overcame a horrid 8-of-24 start from the field in the first half to only trail 22-20 at the half.
Someone who wasn't a part of that shooting funk was Bryce Guse, who went 5-of-6 for 12 points, including a couple of threes in the half.
Washington Twp. (16-6) hit its first four shots, but then went 5-of-24 for the rest of the half.
The Senators turned up the heat in the third quarter by starting it with a 12-0 run over the first 5:27 and then really clamped down on defense late in the third and early in the fourth, forcing eight Tiger turnovers within a stretch of 6:14.
"I thought that was the key to the game," said Bowersock, whose team has now won eight straight. "We just challenged their guys and got the job done in the second half."