HOBART | Lowell’s Mackenzie Kreutz was at the center of it all.
Then warm-ups ended, and she and her walking boot limped over to the bench for the remainder of Saturday night’s game at Hobart.
While Kreutz, a 6-foot senior who has led Lowell in scoring for roughly half its games, was directly under the backboard batting warm-up shots and cheering healthy teammates, Hobart’s Grayce Roach was pacing in front of the bench with her new cast on her left hand.
The leading scorer for the Brickies left the court weeping and holding her left hand in the waning moments of Tuesday’s home win over Chesterton. A break in the hand will keep Roach, a 5-8 junior guard, out indefinitely.
Kreutz, likewise, is out indefinitely with an ankle injury she suffered early Tuesday against Merrillville.
Each missing an important part, Times No. 4 Lowell and No. 8 Hobart did battle with the Northwest Crossroads Conference title on the line Saturday.
Roach’s absence was more prominent as the Red Devils beat the Brickies 44-27 to remain unbeaten in the NCC. At 5-0 in league play, Lowell needs a win over Griffith to cement a second consecutive conference crown.
With Kreutz missing in the post, the Red Devils (12-2, 5-0) opted for perimeter shooting to do their damage. Hunter Jusevitch had a pair of 3s off the bench in the second quarter as Lowell hit four in the half and took a 26-19 cushion into halftime.
Jusevitch, who led the Red Devils with 16 points, beat the third-quarter buzzer for another 3 to help Lowell finish that quarter on an 8-0 run after Autumn Beal’s steal and layup cut the Devils’ lead to 26-25.
Carley Austgen had two of Lowell’s seven offensive rebounds in the first half and had eight points at the break despite a 3-for-8 performance at the free-throw line. She finished the game with 11 points.
Teammate Katie Bobos had two offensive boards as well in the first half and added six first-half points. Bobos, the team’s leading scorer entering the game, had 11 to match Austgen.
Without Roach, the Brickies lacked a closer on offense. Breakaway steals begat missed layups, and late desperation produced a series of errant 3-point attempts. Lowell scored the final eight points of the game.
Beal led the Brickies (13-5, 5-1) with 10 points. Hobart had eight points in the second half and no field goals in the fourth quarter.