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Lake Central's Sara Zabrecky

Lake Central's Sara Zabrecky, right, earned big minutes as a freshman last season and became a starter as a sophomore.

Sara Zabrecky watches film, reads defenses and pays attention to the outside shot.

When she started the season on the bench for Lake Central because of a foot injury, she watched even more.

She missed the first two games, and quickly contributed as soon as she returned to the floor.

That's what made it easy for Indians coach Joe Huppenthal to make the sophomore a starter this season.

"She's a basketball junkie," Huppenthal said. "Even against East Chicago, we put a lot of responsibility on Sara to be a roamer on the defense and she did a great job reading what she was supposed to do."

The role of basketball junkie comes as naturally for Zabrecky as does changing her duties on the Indians' team.

Her dad, Alan Zabrecky, played basketball at Munster. Her grandfather played hoops at a now-defunct school in Chicago.

Her granddad still attends every game — she said he even makes the trips with her travel team — and talks basketball with her postgame.

"My dad was a natural talent in high school," Zabrecky said. "He picked it up from my grandpa. I get it from them."

Zabrecky is an outside threat and tough to block. She's hit 25 3s this season, including three against West Side — representing the Region in the Class 3A regional — and is good for 40 percent beyond the arch.

The 5-foot-9 guard who can play the two or three is showing her versatility. Since playing against South Bend Washington, she's improved her rebounding numbers as well, grabbing five rebounds in the sectional against Highland and another four against E.C. Central.

"The biggest thing with our kids, and a lot with Sara, is what I call 'role adjustment'" Huppenthal said. "She gets her role, and next year she knows it's going to change and she'll be doing something different."

Zabrecky watches tape outside of the Indians training sessions, too. She said she'll be working in her room when a message from her dad will remind her that the "game's on."

The two will watch who ever they can see — not playing favorites — to learn and bond.

"We'll just pick out teams to watch and sit down," Zabrecky said.

The Indians are enjoying the spoils of their first sectional title since 2015. They won their three sectional games by an average of 13 points. Only Munster pulled within 10 at the end, with L.C. advancing past the first round with a 46-38 victory.

The Indians play Kankakee Valley in Saturday's regional opener at LaPorte. The teams made the trip through the snow on Friday to ensure an on-time start for the 10 a.m. game.

"We have been practicing really hard all week," Zabrecky said. "The bonding has been great; I really don't want the season to end at all."


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.