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Girls basketball: Lake Central, Lowell to meet in 4A final

Lowell's Mackenzie Kreutz puts up shot over Highland's BriannWilliams during sectional semi-finals Friday Munster. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media

Lowell's Mackenzie Kreutz puts up a shot over Highland's Brianna Williams during the sectional semi-finals on Friday, in Munster. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 10, 2013 6:49AM



MUNSTER — A year ago, East Chicago knocked Lake Central out of the girls basketball state tournament. The Indians’ Tara Zlotkowski wasn’t going to let it happen again.

The Lake Central sophomore delivered some key shots as the Indians defeated the Cardinals 55-47.

Zlotkowski got started early with a pair of 3-pointers after East Chicago had taken an early 5-2 lead. Lake Central held the advantage until midway through the third quarter when the Cardinals’ Dariyelle Ricks drove the lane and hit a short jumper to put East Chicago up 28-27. The Indians didn’t regain the lead until Zlotkowski hit a running jumper from the right baseline to start the fourth quarter. And when East Chicago cut the lead to three points late in the game, it was Zlotkowski with another basket to put an end to the run.

“I thought Tara played very poised throughout the game,” Lake Central coach Marc Urban said. “She and Megan Krol handled East Chicago’s pressure very well at the end there.”

Zlotkowksi had a lot of help, from Jessica Bell. The 5-10 senior led all scorers with 22 points, including 14 of 19 from the free throw line, and 16 rebounds.

“That’s what seniors have to do,” Urban said. “Step up and make plays this time of year.”

Zlotkowski finished with 17 points and four assists for Lake Central (15-7). Ricks led East Chicago (12-11) with 17 points while sophomore Tiajaney Hawkins scored 14 points, all in the second half.

Lake Central moves on to Saturday’s final to face Lowell, which reached the championship game with a 59-32 victory over Highland. The Red Devils held the Trojans to one 3-pointer in the first quarter as they ran out to a 13-3 lead. By halftime, Lowell (18-3) pushed its advantage to 31-14 behind Mackenzie Kreutz, who scored 13 of her game-high 21 points in the half.

“It was never an excuse, but she’s a pretty good player,” Lowell coach Matt Welsh said of Kreutz returning from a midseason injury a few games ago. “I’m glad we have her for the sectional final. It’s something this group of girls has never accomplished before and we’re pretty proud of them for that.”



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