MUNSTER | Lake Central’s game plan against West Side was simpler than X's and O's.
“Nerves come only when you’re under pressure,” Indians sophomore Tara Zlotkowski said. “We didn’t feel the pressure. We were anxious to win.”
Erasing that pressure, Lake Central found it easy to come back from a five-point halftime deficit to knock off West Side 51-41 in the opening round of the Munster girls basketball sectional.
Lake Central will play E.C. Central in a rematch of last year’s title game on Friday in a semifinal. The Cardinals beat Munster 56-44 in the first game Wednesday.
After falling behind with West Side’s pressure defense in the first half, the Indians refocused the on-paper game plan to “attack, attack, attack.”
“Obviously West Side is a very athletic team and they’re very aggressive,” Lake Central coach Marc Urban said. “For us, it was just take care of the basketball. Attack, don’t just keep passing around.”
Behind a pair of 3s from Gina Rubino in the last two minutes of the third quarter, Lake Central turned a 28-28 tie into a 37-30 lead.
“We knew Rubino was a good outside shooter and we did nothing,” West Side coach Rod Fisher said. “We were a foot slow tonight. We got out-played. The better team won.”
Zlotkowski led all scorers with 21 points and Jessica Bell chipped in 11.
Lake Central finished with 13 steals, West Side had three.
Deja Joshua led West Side with nine points.
“It was our size against their speed,” Fisher said. “Their size was a factor, our speed wasn’t.”
E.C. Central won with its speed late.
As the Cardinals saw the defense of their 2012 sectional title slipping through their fingers at halftime, they wore down Munster in the fourth quarter.
Senior Dariyelle Ricks scored all 14 of her points in the second half and Tiajaney Hawkins scored all 11 of her points in the fourth quarter.
"This was a trap game. I thought a few times we'd put it away, then we either took a silly shot or gave the ball away," Cardinals coach Eric Kundich said. "I'm proud of the way our girls took control late."
The Mustangs saw 10 points each from freshman post player Madelynn Moore and sophomore Jordan Cole, and senior Bernadette Grabowski scored a team-high 14 before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
After taking a one-point lead at halftime and maintaining the tie at the end of the third quarter, the Mustangs committed 13 fourth-quarter turnovers. The Cardinals (12-10) went on an 8-0 run to open the final frame.
"The turnovers killed us," Munster coach Matt Backs said. "We were in almost every game we played this year. But those little mistakes hurt us."
Cardinals senior Denitra Brown scored 10 of her 12 points in the first half and Natisha Jones scored 11 of her 13 from the free-throw line.