LOWELL | Lowell girls basketball coach Matt Welsh knew his Times No. 3 Red Devils had to be at the top of their game in order to hang with the No. 4 East Chicago.
“We’ve scouted E.C. a couple of times and know how athletic they are,” Welsh said. “They are ahead of us physically, so we knew we would have to play smart. This was a great measuring stick for us tonight.”
And measure up they did.
Behind 17 points by senior Katie Bobos, the Red Devils defeated E.C. Central 51-30 in nonconference action at the Pit.
Playing smart is something that has eluded E.C. to date, according to head coach Eric Kundich.
“We have all of the talent and the athleticism we need to be as successful as we were last year,” Kundich said, "but we have not played very smart basketball so far this season. We have been very inconsistent, especially mentally.”
Kundich’s words proved true, as the defending sectional champion Cardinals had more turnovers than points in both the first and third quarters.
Lowell came out at the start with the intent to push the ball up the court.
“We want to keep the tempo up on offense,” Welsh said. “We want to push the ball down the court and get the best open shot. Our girls have to work as a team in order for us to stay in the game.”
Kundich, on the other hand, wanted to slow the game down from the start. He deployed a 2-3 zone on defense to keep the Red Devil in check.
“We want to try and slow down their offense and keep the ball at half court,” Kundich said. “If we can, we want to avoid a race up and down the court.”
The plan worked for the Cardinals (2-3) in the first quarter, which ended with Lowell ahead 8-4.
Bobos caught fire in the second quarter, nailing three baskets and a pair of free throws. She was able to penetrate the paint for all three buckets, as well as a pair of assist to Mackenzie Kruetz (19 points). The Red Devils slowly stretched their lead to 24-15 at the half.
Lowell (2-0) opened up its offense in the second half, running the court and getting inside routinely. The Red Devils led by as many as 20 in the fourth.