A basketball battle

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Stephanie Dijak (10) swipes the ball away from an opposing player. Dijak moved down the quart after this play to score two points.

Kevin Holechko

The girls varsity basketball team faced off against the Merrillville Pirates Friday, Dec. 2.  The Lady Indians went into the game with high spirits their wins the past three games and they were ready to win another.

“Usually the JV girls practice the same runs as the Merrillville team to get the varsity team ready. That’s usually takes up about an hour of practice, and then we work really hard before the game. We don’t take an easy day off before the games,”  Meghan Long (10) said.

From the first whistle, the Pirates were on the attack. Both sides battled for the ball aggressively. With the junior varsity girls completely obliterating of the Merrillville JV team by winning 39-13, the varsity Pirates were determined to come out on top.

“We definitely had a plan for trapping them and making them not score. Before our game we would make special plays made to trap them,” Madison Dulski (9) said.

By halftime both teams had battled well, but the Indians managed to stay on top with a 32-29 lead. Both teams returned to their locker rooms to formulate plans for the final two quarters. Tensions were high for the families in attendance.

“Defensively we gave them to many open looks and three point shots, and that was just being wherever shooters were and we didn’t get matched up like I wanted in transition. That caused us some trouble, so we talked about that at halftime and how we could fix that,” Head Coach Joe Huppenthal (Mathematics) said.

The second half of the game began much differently than the the first. The Pirates were much more physical and were using brutal tactics to score. The Indians held their ground and continued to play as respectfully as they could.

“We just has to play smarter and tougher and do better on defense,” Dulski said.

In the final quarter of the game, the Indians led with only a mere few points. The girls would accept nothing less than a victory. As Merrillville increased the pressure by scoring several shots to make the game almost heart stopping, you could feel the anxiety and pressure that the girls faced after each basket that was made.

“I don’t really get nervous during the game, I get nervous watching my kids’ games or someone else play.  People always ask that question, but when you’re in the game in the moment you really just don’t. You just have to think of the next play and everything it’s like an out of body experience,”  Huppenthal said.

In the final two minutes of the game, both teams put their best efforts into scoring. With multiple fouls and timeouts, the fans could hardly keep their mouths shut. After multiple missed calls, parents on both sides were shouting and sticking up for their teams. In the final minute, two key fouls went in the Indians’ favor. It all came down to Lauren Ladowski (11), who was tasked with scoring the key points. Though the fan section of Merrillville attempted to mess her up by making as much noise as possible, Ladowski made the shots and the game came to a breathtaking end with a score of 58-56.

“I mean you just have to work at it. At practice we work on five-one defenses; you just have to get through it. Free throws are pretty easy. You just have to block out the noise. I mean it’s apart of being a basketball player,” Ladowski said.