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Gina Rubino and Tara Zlotkowski

Indiana Northwest freshmen Gina Rubino, left, and Tara Zlotkowski were teammates at Lake Central. The two are among the top 3-point shooters in NAIA.

They were part of the resurgence of Lake Central girls basketball.

Now the two are part of an Indiana Northwest women's basketball program which has high hopes.

Freshmen Gina Rubino and Tara Zlotkowski have made an impact for the RedHawks (12-5).

They are also continuing their success as 3-point shooters. While teammate and Portage grad Nicki Monahan is ninth in NAIA Division II in 3-point percentage (.453), Zlotkowski and Rubino are 11th and 20th, respectively. Zlotkowski has made 31 of 69 attempts (.449), while Rubino had made 25 of 57 (.439).

"We have a lot of scorers on the team, so it opens up a lot of (scoring) opportunities for everyone," Rubino said. "We can pass the ball to Nicki or Grayce (Roach) or another player. It kind of takes the pressure off of you."

RedHawks coach Ryan Shelton said the two stepped right in and contributed.

"Gina and Tara have been critical to our success and have made an enormous impact from the moment they arrived," Shelton said. "They both come from a winning culture at Lake Central where they were very well coached by Marc Urban and are extremely talented and fierce competitors.

"They're both great kids fun to coach and tough. Exactly the type of players you need to win basketball games at the college level."

The duo have played together since they were students at Clark Middle School and played AAU ball together.

"I felt pretty comfortable staying close to home, and I really liked it here when I visited," Zlotkowski said. "We thought it was good for both of us to play college ball together."

Rubino said knowing each other's moves on the court is helpful.

"We have that chemistry having played together for so long," Rubino said. "That makes us comfortable out there, but we also have a good team chemistry. That has been a plus for the whole team. We play together out there."

Plenty of "spare" time: The Valparaiso women's bowling team will have almost a month off before its next match.

The 15h-ranked Crusaders have been off since Dec. 18, when they won the team championship at the Virginia Union Invitational. Their next match is the Mid-Winter Invitational in Jonesboro, Ark.

"I see where several were in a tournament at Stardust III in Dyer, one was in a tourney in Las Vegas," coach Matt Nantais said. "That is good because I want them to come back ready to go."

He said his team has a chance to be a top-eight team, which would get them invited to the national tournament.

"Teams ranked six through 15 are pretty close, so anyone can be in the top eight," Nantais said.

A big first: With an 89-78 win over then NAIA Divison II No. 30 Goshen College last week, it marked the first time the Indiana Northwest men's basketball program has defeated a ranked team.

"This is a great step for our program; we have to continue to take advantage of opportunities to play well against great competition," RedHawks coach Kris Schnatz said. "Our  program has been moving in the right direction. We had nine wins last season, including the first two NAIA wins in over three years. We beat teams that have been beating us repeatedly for years."

Milestone for McBee: Purdue Calumet's Patrice McBee hit a milestone in Tuesday's loss to St. Francis (Ill.).

McBee scored her 1,000th career point and finished with 14 in the game. She now has 1,003 points, which is 19th on the scoring list.

Big challenge: The Calumet College men's basketball team hosts NAIA Division II No. 2 St. Francis tonight and Crimson Wave coach Ryan Sexson said his team must step up its game.

"We are excited to get to compete against a really good basketball team on our home court," Sexson said. "St. Francis has one of the best front lines in our league and some tremendous guards on the perimeter."

That group includes Merrillville grad Jake Raspopovich.

"We have to dictate tempo and keep them from getting comfortable," Sexson said. "Another big time game for us in the (Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference)."

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Sports Director

Hillary has covered prep, pro and college sports -- and even a Dixie Baseball World Series -- for newspapers north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line since 1995.

Sports Copy Editor

Jim is a copy editor for The Times who works out of Valparaiso. A South Central High School (1984) and Ball State ('89) grad, he’s covered preps most of his career. He received the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association’s Media Award in 1997.