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Stock basketball
The Times

LAPORTE — While Lake Central was winning its sectional title last week, girls basketball coach Joe Huppenthal sent his freshmen coaches to the Kankakee Valley vs. Valparaiso sectional championship game in Wheatfield.

Just in case.

The coaches returned with a scouting report on Kankakee Valley that Lake Central quickly turned into a plan to keep the Kougars in the half court.

"If we could get them in a half-court situation, then we got to play our half-court defense," Huppenthal said. "I've said it again and again that we guard so well and that's what wins games in the tournament."

The Indians kept the pressure on in the first half of Saturday's regional semifinal, holding K.V. to five points in the first quarter and 16 by halftime in a 57-41 win that advanced Lake Central to the regional championship game against Penn.

"We were a little wide-eyed at the start," Kankakee Valley coach Ryan Myers said. "Defensively, we had a lot of breakdowns at the beginning and we put ourselves down 10."

The Kougars (21-4) trailed 19-7 after back-to-back 3s from Lake Central senior Rachael Robards in the first two minutes of the second quarter.

K.V. picked up two field goals from Lindsey Stokes and held the Indians to one bucket the rest of the half, pulling within six points.

"We needed to fire up," Stokes aid. "We didn't play our best but we were still only down five.

"We just needed to start scoring. We never could go on any runs."

Lake Central opened the fourth quarter with six points in less than a minute, mounting a 17-point lead.

"The kids really listened to the scouting report," Huppenthal said. "I know we talked about some things and they were ready for just about anything. There wasn't anything they saw that they weren't prepared for."

Stokes led all scorers with 18 points. The senior guard added to her school-record 3-pointer total with two against Lake Central. K.V.'s  previous record was 50 and Stokes finishes the year with 56.

"She'll go down as one of the all-time best we've had," Myers said. "All the records she has, for her it was all about the concept of team."

Lauren Ladowski scored 12 points for the Indians while fellow senior Lauren Smolen pulled in 10 rebounds to go with her nine points. Lake Central had 12 players take the floor Saturday morning and 10 scored.


Sports Director

Hillary has covered prep, pro and college sports -- and even a Dixie Baseball World Series -- for newspapers north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line since 1995.