MUNSTER | Jessica Bell might have made the smartest play of her young life on Saturday night, although it might not be as important in a regular season game.
With 13.8 seconds left in a highly-dramatic game, she committed her fourth foul, which was off the ball on Lowell star Katie Bobos, forcing her to make two free throws, as it gave Lake Central the possession.
After one Tara Zlotkowski free throw, Lowell had to scurry to get a shot off from the length of the floor.
But the Red Devils turned the ball over, and Chrissy Addison made the last layup, as Lake Central fought off Bobos' monster 29-point effort and escaped with a 53-49 victory to win the Class 4A Munster Sectional.
"It wasn't my first intention to foul her, but I just wanted to keep her from getting the ball at all costs," said Bell, who scored four points and added four rebounds. "But the foul came at a crucial point and I'm just so proud because the entire sectional was a team effort."
Up 38-33 after three, Lowell went on a 9-0 run to start the fourth, but Lake Central fought back by scoring eight of the game's last 12 points.
"We had a couple of lapses in execution and they made a couple more shots," Lowell coach Matt Welsh said. "But I'm so unbelievably proud of the way we fought. From where we started until now, this is entirely different set of girls."
Lake Central (16-7) got out to a hot start, hitting four of its first five shots in a 9-2 run over the first four minutes of the game.
But thanks to three combined 3-pointers from Bobos and sophomore guard Hunter Jusevitch, the Red Devils (18-4) eventually cut it to a 16-13 deficit after one despite committing seven turnovers in the period.
Lowell took that momentum and forced six Lake Central turnovers in the second quarter, fighting its way back and taking a 26-25 lead thanks to two Bobos free throws in the waning seconds of the first half, as the Red Devil faithful was chanting its patented "RDP" battle cry in unison.
In one of the aforementioned lapses in execution, Lake Central responded with a Gina Rubino three from the baseline as the first half buzzer sounded to give the Indians, winners of six straight and 10 of its last 11, back the lead 28-26, silencing and stunning the enthusiastic Lowell crowd.
After taking advantage of the costly defensive lapse at the end of the half, the Indians turned up the heat defensively in the third, forcing Lowell to miss on several open looks and hitting their own open looks while committing just three turnovers in the quarter.
"We always talk about one stop on one possession," Lake Central coach Marc Urban said.
Lindsay Kusbel scored a team-high 15 points, showing off her outside game as well as the inside game, as she opened the game with a three, shocking everyone.
"I've worked on both for a while during the season," she said. "I think I've developed both well thanks to my coaches."