ST. JOHN — Jenasae Bishop returned for Times No. 2 E.C. Central in Wednesday's game against No. 7 Lake Central and scored her team's first 12 points.
Then the Indians adjusted.
L.C. held E.C. Central's inside threats of Tai-Yanna and Tiara Jackson to a combined four points and the Indians easily handled the Cardinals in the 51-35 win.
Lauren Ladowski, who scored Lake Central's first 10 points, finished with 12 and helped lead the Indians (8-4) with a defensive effort that forced E.C. into 17 turnovers.
"We're a great shooting team and we're good when we get outside," Ladowski said. "This is a good win for us. We have a tough schedule and knew we were going to get better. The first half of our season was tough, but we learned and we kept our heads up to grind through it."
Ladowski hit two her her team's eight 3s, with Lake Central's outside shooting helping to erase E.C. Central's early lead of 10-2. Sara Zabrecky and Madison Dulski also had two 3s each as L.C. showed no fear shooting from the outside to avoid the Jackson twins who reach 6-foor-6 and 6-3.
"We had a game plan, but until you see No. 1 (Bishop) out there, you don't realize until it happens how good she is," Lake Central coach Joe Huppenthal said. "It's a little chess match, and so we adjusted."
Bishop hasn't played a full basketball game since May 21 after suffering an ACL injury. She was medically cleared to play on Dec. 4.
E.C. coach Eric Kundich said he got a call on the way to the game from Bishop's father letting him know his daughter was ready to go on Wednesday.
"I was thinking of coming back against an easier opponent," Bishop said, "but it was good to come back today just to see where I stand."
Bishop led all players with 16 points. Zabrecky chipped in 10 and Taiylour Kirkwood added 11 for the Indians.
Taiyanna Jackson, Zariah Frierson and Nia Hurt all fouled out, collecting a combined 15 of the Cardinals' 18 fouls.
"We lose a lot with Hurt and Frierson on the bench early with two fouls each," Kundich said. "We're not going to beat many teams without those three on the floor."
After taking a 21-20 lead just before halftime, Lake Central pulled away with a quick 3 from Zabrecky and buckets by Lauren Smolen and Kirkwood in the third quarter.
Tai-Yanna Jackson had two points, Frierson six and Hurt five.
"We know we can't get too big a head," Ladowski said. "Last year, we beat West Side by a lot in the regular season and they beat us in the sectional."
The Indians have won six straight while E.C. Central (11-3) has lost three of its last five games.
"Our first 11 games were pretty easy," Kundich said. "Especially the last two, against Marquette Catholic and Lake Central, we have definitely played different types of teams."