ST. JOHN | The first practice after Lake Central’s only loss of 2013, a defeat at the hands of Merrillville, Indians coach Marc Urban lectured his starting senior power forward.
A word such as "assertive" was repeatedly used during the five-minute reminder of just how few moments might be left this season.
In two games since the inspiring talk, Jessica Bell has combined for 45 points, and Lake Central has won six of its seven games since the turning of the calendar.
Bell had 19 points and 11 rebounds, leading nine Indians who cracked the scoring column, as Times No. 8 L.C. dispatched visiting Chesterton 69-36 Thursday night in Duneland Athletic Conference action.
“Coach Urban definitely pushed me there,” Bell said. “He knows what I’m capable of, probably more than I do.
“I feel like this is a very important stretch for us. The Merrillville loss hit us hard, but we feel good we’re getting on this roll going into the sectionals.”
The margin of victory was the same as the jersey number for Bell, who will play her final regular-season game Jan. 31 at home against Portage. The IHSAA sectional draw is this Sunday.
“She’s really been playing well for us,” Urban said. “She’s not forcing anything. She’s taking what the defense is giving her. She is taking that senior role.”
The Indians (12-7, 9-4) have outscored opponents by an average of almost 19 points per game in their six wins in 2013.
Defense has played a huge role, as evidenced by Thursday’s 16-0 lead after one quarter.
“We’re starting to have a mature mindset every game and just worry about us,” Urban said. “We’re maturing with our team and with our focus.”
The Indians outrebounded the Trojans 30-15 and had 17 assists on 29 field goals.
“Yeah, I scored a lot, but it was because of the unselfishness of the team,” Bell said. “I definitely like the way we’re playing together.”
Lindsay Kusbel had 13 points and six rebounds, and seven other players tallied for the Indians, with Gina Rubino scoring eight and Rolanda Curington and Chrissy Addison adding seven each.
Chesterton rallied after the disastrous first quarter, and Caroline Puntilllo had eight of her team-high 18 points in the second quarter, which ended with the Trojans (4-14, 2-11) down 33-14. Kassidy Scott added eight for Chesterton.
The game was moved up a day from its original date to accommodate Chesterton girls basketball and baseball coach Jack Campbell, who tonight will be inducted into the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Indianapolis. E.C. Washington product Kenny Lofton is also among the five honorees.