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Sports reporter

Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.

CROWN POINT — Joe Huppenthal talked to this reporter 22 years ago about a topic that is still quite pertinent in today's girls basketball world.

Then, coaching at E.C. Central, Huppenthal talked about Laveta Flye at the 1992 Whiting Sectional. The "no-name" player came off the bench in a close game against Hammond and took a charge, scored a basket and grabbed two rebounds as the Cardinals went on a 10-0 run and won the sectional.

Huppenthal, who danced with his Lake Central Indians after their 46-27 win over E.C. on Saturday night, could not remember Flye's name. Too many years and too many emotional wins, and losses.

But he could remember the concept.

"I've been telling these girls all year that someone has to step up in a big game like this," Huppenthal said. "Someone who isn't on the other team's radar. And that's what we got tonight."

Neither Sara Zabrecky or Taiylour Kirkwood were high on E.C. Central's scouting report. How could they have been when the Indians have such players as Lauren Ladowski, Lauren Smolen and Rachael Robards.

But Zabrecky and Kirkwood earned Coach Hupp's Laveta Flye Trophy on this dominating night.

The sophomore Zabrecky scored nine and the senior Kirkwood had 10 points against a talented team that likely has three Division I players competing for the Cardinals.

"You have to always play as a team," Zabrecky said. "Families win championships."

And so does depth, which L.C. had a ton more of.

Jenasae Bishop is one of the best point guards in the state, but the Boston College-bound standout was held to a team-high 14 points. The 6-foot-6 junior Taiyanna Jackson scored four points. Still don't know why she wasn't posting up by the basket more. She took two 3-pointers which made me think of Angel Garcia.

And the 6-foot-4 Tiara Jackson scored two points.

Kirkwood knew how much more individual talent was on E.C.'s roster and all that did was motivate the 5-foot-5 guard, who guarded Bishop much of the night.

"It's hard, Jenasae is a great player," Kirkwood said. "She's unbelievable. All I was trying to do was keep her in front of me, keep her away from the basket.

"This feels amazing, man."

All the Indians were clutching a piece of the net cut down collectively inside Crown Point's sectional gymnasium. It was a symbol of what works. And what doesn't work.

The Cardinals have had a great run under coach Eric Kundich, getting 66 wins over the last four years. But E.C. hasn't won a sectional title since 2012.

And to be clear, the sectional titles that Kundich has to win are a lot tougher than the ones that Huppenthal won in East Chicago playing in the old Whiting Sectional of single class days.

E.C. has probably had more D-I players in its history than points it scored on this Saturday night. The community needs to start focusing more on the Laveta Flyes than the Tennille Adams. Depth is the only way to get the Cardinals up to the place that the Indians now reside.

Along with that, young ladies and their families need to stop listening to AAU coaches. AAU coaches are why the lack of fundamentals are so high in the Twin Cities.

"I pulled Bishop over and congratulated her," Huppenthal said of the guard who went over 2,000 career points in the game. "I hope she has a great career in college and I'm going to be rooting for her. She's a good kid. All of East Chicago's kids are good kids."

But to win a sectional championship you need more than good. You need two or three Laveta Flyes coming off the bench to make a difference.

This column solely represents the writer’s opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.

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