LOWELL | Highland had one part of its game plan against Lake Central executed in the first half of Wednesday's sectional quarterfinal.
What the Trojans didn't count on was Gina Rubino's hot hand.
The junior guard hit seven 3s and gave the Indians a first half lead that was nearly impossible for Highland to overcome. Lake Central advances to Friday's semifinal with a 53-37 victory. The Indians will play West Side, which beat Munster 85-47 in the second game of the Lowell Sectional.
"We were happy to get on the court, we've only played one game in the last 18 days," Lake Central coach Marc Urban said. "We played a good game and did what we needed to."
The Indians could be playing a depleted West Side team Friday. After a fight at practice on Monday, the Cougars were without four players, including Division I senior DeJah Joshua.
West Side coach Rod Fisher wouldn't comment on the players who were not on the bench, but said that his team played well despite its missing pieces.
"Our supporting cast is not as deep as we wanted," Fisher said. "They responded well. That's our team tonight."
Dana Evans scored 25 against Munster, with 23 in the first half.
"She's going to have to carry us," Fisher said. "Everyone doubted us coming in this week, and we've had so much negative press, we wanted to show what we have is good enough to compete in this sectional."
West Side broke out to a 23-10 lead after the first quarter and a 55-17 lead at halftime.
In the first game, Lake Central's lead wasn't as big, but the comfortable 27-14 mark at the half gave the Indians some room to make seven turnovers in the third quarter.
Rubino led all scorers in the early game with 25 points, as Lindsay Kusbel, the inside threat who was limited in the first half thanks to two early fouls, added 10 points.
Putting Kusbel in foul trouble was part of Highland's game plan. The next part was to try to limit outside shooting.
"You can't take just one thing away from Lake Central," Highland coach Tracie Mezera said. "They have too many other things that work for them."
Alyesha Slaven paced the Trojans with 18 points and Brianna Williams added 10.
"When you're in the tournament, you take each game one at a time," Urban said. "We won this one, and we're playing Friday."