MUNSTER | There was a collective lump in the throats of the Lake Central Indians after the horn ended the third quarter of Wednesday night's Class 4A Munster Sectional.
Hearts were pounding and fear was getting its legs. It was now or never in the game against Munster.
"I was panicking inside," L.C. junior Jessica Bell said.
"That was the worst quarter of basketball we'd played all year," Indians coach Leslie Iwema said.
A 24-13 halftime lead had vanished after the Mustangs outscored the defending sectional champs 18-4 in the third. That's when Iwema made a strong and pointed comment to her players before the final eight minutes started to tick.
"Get the ball inside," she said, which was the theme of the night.
Bell scored 10 of her game-high 20 points in the fourth and fellow post Nikki Adams scored eight of her 15 points. Getting easier shots closer to the hoop allowed the Indians advance with a 47-38 win.
Lake Central (12-9) advanced to play Lowell on Friday. The Red Devils beat Highland 45-32 in the night's first game. And Lowell (18-3) did it the same way:jJunior center MacKenzie Kreutz scored a game-high 23 in the win over the Trojans (8-13).
Munster's Lauren Grunewald had scored eight of the Mustangs' 10 points when things were going good. She came out of the game with 4:30 left in the game with her team holding a 35-32 lead.
The 15-3 run to end the game was the story.
"She was gassed. She was like 'get me out,'" Munster coach Matt Backs said. "I didn't pull her out, but my assistant coach was putting Cayla Bales in and (Grunewald) had a hot hand, but she was gassed and I didn't see that. I would have left her in. It was like the Hoosiers thing: what got into her? The Lord!"
Grunewald finished with 10 and Bernadette Grabowski led her team with 13.
Lowell's whole game plan was getting the ball inside to Kreutz. The Devils trailed Highland the first time they played in the fourth quarter before pulling out a four-point win at home.
The goal on Wednesday was to not allow any Devil to sweat. They didn't.
"This is sectionals, we were screaming on the bus, yelling random stuff," Kreutz said. "The guards got the ball to me near the basket and I was able to make my shots. Now, it's (Lake Central). We want redemption."
The Indians beat Lowell 55-53 on Jan. 17.
Lowell point guard Kalyne Godbolt left the game with an injured left hand. Coach Katie Antcliff is not sure if she'll be ready by Friday.
The "bigs" are important but the point guard is all part of the entire scheme.
"We're going to get it checked," Antcliff said. "We're hoping to tape it up and send her on her merry way."