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Boys basketball: Lake Central loses control in loss to Merrillville

Merrillville's Jelani Pruitt goes basket with Lake Central's Mike Miklusak defending first quarter Friday night Merrillville High School. | Jeffrey

Merrillville's Jelani Pruitt goes to the basket with Lake Central's Mike Miklusak defending in the first quarter Friday night at Merrillville High School. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 16, 2013 6:11AM



MERRILLVILLE — It’s true, what you’ve heard.

Trying to contain Merrillville can cause a coach to go crazy.

Just ask Lake Central coach Dave Milausnic.

Milausnic, who said he rarely gets technical fouls, was tossed from the Pirates’ 73-67 victory Friday with four minutes left in the game.

It was just one of those head spinning, incredibly physical, fast and emotional games that can lead to the kind of spontaneous frustration that sent Milausnic to the locker room early. Milausnic was called for a technical in the first half for protesting a call. He got booted with a little over four minutes left after he jumped off the bench. He had repeatedly been warned not to leave the bench. A high school coach has to stay on the bench after his first technical or a second technical can be called. Milausnic’s ejection means he will be suspended for the game against Munster, which is Tuesday.

Chief among the Indians’ problems was the duo of BJ Jenkins (24 points and three assists) and Jelani Pruitt (22 points and nine rebounds).

A more pointed issue for LC is its inability to play well for extended periods of time.

The Indians actually looked like they were starting to pin Merrillville when they took a 43-41 lead with 1:07 left in the third quarter on a basket inside by Tyler Wideman. That was the culmination of a 12-4 run that had erased a six-point Pirates lead.

But Merrillville scored 12 of the next 13 points to get its footing back.

It was one of those pivotal moments that is understandable when the makeup of the teams is taken into account.

The Pirates have 12 seniors. LC has eight juniors on its roster.

Merrillville coach TJ Lux was happy with the way his team got back into the game.

“That was the perfect moment to see how we’d respond,” he said.

Milausnic wasn’t surprised that his team couldn’t hold it together. The Indians have played badly at the end of quarters all year.

“We can play well for seven or eight minutes it seems like,” Milausnic said.

Merrillville got ahead early and led for most of the game.

The Pirates, getting 12 first- quarter points from Jenkins, jumped out to a 25-18 first quarter lead.

Lake Central got back into it in the second quarter, scoring the first six points. A basket by Wideman with 6:05 left in the half made it 25-24.

Pruitt broke the drought for the Pirates when he scored inside.

That started a 10-4 run for Merrillville. A 3-pointer by Jenkins made it 35-28 with 2:08 left.

Jenkins finished with 15 points in the first half while Pruitt pitched in with 13 points and six rebounds.

The fourth quarter lead for Merrillville was up to 13 points at one time.

Pruitt, who was one of the culprits in getting Wideman into foul trouble (he had three in the first half and four for the game), said the Pirates just have to work finishing.

“We just have to learn to close teams out,” he said.



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