GARY | Basketball sectionals are the ultimate makeover, your second chance to get it right.
Two teams opening play in Tuesday night's 4A West Side site would agree.
Lowell had lost seven games by eight points or less in the regular season. Defending champion Lake Central had six losses by 10 points or less.
L.C. cruised past the Red Devils 71-42 on Jan. 15.
Tuesday wasn't quite a nail-biter, but Lake Central needed all it had to eliminate Lowell in the rematch, 54-44, despite shooting 22-of-37 from the line.
Coach Dave Milausnic was not a happy man afterward.
"We had a really good stretch (in the second half) but we didn't finish the game well the last four or five minutes," Milausnic said. "We got soft. We thought we had the game put away.
"There might have been some jitters — there are only three guys back who played last year — but we have to learn when we have people down, we have to do a better job stepping on their throats.
"And that's defense," added Milausnic, who did not allow his players to be interviewed afterward.
Lowell (9-13) played like it was on life support the first half, withstanding 10 turnovers and L.C.'s 1-3-1 trapping defense to trail only 22-18.
The Devils were then held to four points in the third quarter, before making a final push in the fourth, cutting a 14-point deficit to eight.
Lake Central (14-7) used 11-of-19 foul shooting in the final period to hang on for the win.
Tye Wilburn led the Indians with 12 points. Tyler Wideman, their 6-foot-7 junior center, added nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
Zack VanHook, who scored 39 points against West Side on the same court earlier this season, had 17 for Lowell. Billy Barker tossed in 14 and Spenser Kersey added 11.
"Lowell did a nice job turning their season around," Milausnic said.