ST. JOHN | Girls basketball coach Marc Urban hopes he can duplicate the standard set by senior Jessica Bell for future Lake Central programs.
"She's a great senior for a first-year coach to have," Urban said. "She not only worries about herself, but she worries about the team. She worries about the direction the team's going, and she's so team-first, that wears off on the other girls.
"She's been good for me in my first year, having a senior like her that takes responsibility for everything that happens."
In the summer, Bell played for two AAU teams and still made open gyms and games for the Indians.
Lake Central starts its school day at 7:15 a.m. and she's still happy to attend 6 a.m. shoot-arounds.
"I actually hate Sundays because I don't do anything, so I feel lazy," Bell said. "We don't have practice, we don't have school and they bug me because I'm not doing something.
"I have to have that, I have to keep going."
All that hard work earned Bell a scholarship to Mercyhurst, a Division II school in Erie, Pa. She's planning to major in Intelligence Studies with a track to becoming an FBI agent.
Mercyhurst is gaining an unselfish player unafraid to attack for a rebound, Urban said.
Bell leads her team in rebounding with 7.9 per game, despite her size as a 5-foot-10 forward typically over-matched inside by Duneland Athletic Conference post players.
"She's a tough match-up and she's so relentless on the boards because she's physical and has zeal that she's reading them off the rim and going up to get (the rebound)," Urban said. "She's not the tallest, but she's probably one of, if not the strongest, on the team."
Said Bell: "I feel like (rebounding) is a main part of my game, that's where I get most of my points from. If I don't have a large number of points, I feel like I use rebounding as a way to contribute."
Averaging 11.1 points per game, Bell scored a season-high 26 against Valparaiso last week and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds the week before against Merrillville.
"She's about winning," Urban said. "A lot of teams have doubled her and that leaves room to free up (Jessica) Delbovo and (Lindsay) Kusbel, and even though she's double teamed, she's still helping the cause.
"Other players are benefiting from her."
Bell explains that she's a stats hound, wanting to know after every game how many she scored, what's her new average. However, she's not driven solely by those numbers.
"I do look at stats because I need to know everything, all the time, but it's more important for me to get a win," Bell said. "You always want to have those points to feel like you've contributed, but if I can contribute on the boards, I feel I've helped my team."