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Heaven sent win
Lowell moves on with a win over Gary West Side

MARK SMITH
Star Sports editor

LOWELL -- I remember saying this before at Lowell this year. But sometimes you just can't stop what's meant to be.
     Dwarfed by the giant front line of Gary champion West Side and trailing by six early on, it seemed that the Red Devils did not have the ability to score a couple of baskets, much less win their first ever regional championship.
But come on. This is 'Lowell 2000' Everybody wins.
     Simply outfighting their taller foe and responding to the roar of a sellout crowd, Lowell scrambled and scrapped and refused to fall, rallying for a once-in-a-liftetime 3-35 victory over the favored Cougars in the first-ever home basketball playoff game in the 80-plus year history of the Route 2 school.
    It may go down as Lowell's greatest-ever basketball upset. Riding senior center Kelly Schoon, who scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and point guard Katie Porento who never left the floor, the Devils continued the victory train kicked off by their brothers in football way back in August.
    Lowell now travels to Warsaw Saturday morning to face Snider (23-2) or Warsaw (15-9) in the Warsaw Semistate semifinals (WXRD-FM 103.9) set for 9 a.m. (region time).
    'I can't believe what's been happening the last few days," said 5-foot--6 Laura Holcomb, who battled Gary West Side giants like 6-foot-1 Kafayet Davis, 6-fool 1 Meghan Yancy and highly-touted 5-fool 10 all-area forward Kim Smith.
    "Were we worried," she said. "When we came out and we were this big (holding her hand to her head) and then they can out and they were this (holding her hand way above here head) big."
    "This team never gives up," said coach Patti McCormack, winning her first regional title in eight years at Lowell. "I mean, how can a team the size of us play with a team the size of them and win?  You just fight."
  
The score belies the fact that the Red Devils did not play a stall. Down 6-5, Lowell went scoreless for almost six minutes but so did West Side. After Potento's basket made it 9-8, the Cougars scored five points in a row and led 14-8 with 5:12 to play in the hall'. But the Cougars took some questionable shots and Lowell battled for every rebound getting a combined 22 rebounds from Schoon (14) and 5-foot-7 Ginger Keithley (8). Outsized by four or live inches per girl up front, Lowell held on even when Schoon rode the bench the first tour minutes of the third quarter with three fouls.  


    "They just kept playing hard," said Schoon. "who has lifted her game to an all-area level.  "Everything came together when we played Highland (a 57-51 OT loss two weeks ago). Ever since then, we knew we could win."
    "Lowell played very well," said West Side coach Rod Fisher, who was gracious in congratulating Schoon. "It helps to be playing at home. That may have had something to do with our shooting but they did exactly what I'd do against us. Pack it in and make us shoot from the outside."
    Lowell took the lead with a 6-0 run early in the third quarter. Holcomb popped the ball down to reserve Jen Schulfer, who hit a short turn around in the low post. After two free throws by Keithley, West Side missed two more shots and Vanessa Zolmer scored on a breakaway pass from Porenfo. Zohner did make a couple of Lowell's 22 turnovers but the Devils don't win without her ball-handling and fearless drives.
    "I chose Vanessa over Eva Slinn because she's a senior," said McCormack of her third guard choice. "There's no other reason I can tell you. Eva's probably quicker but Vanessa is a senior and I thought that might make a difference."
    West Side, still shooting poorly against and over tight interior defense, slowly edged back into a tie 24-24 on two free throws by Yancey with 2:13 left in the quarter. Schoon's offensive rebound basket gave Lowell a 26-24 lead after three quarters. That started a 6-0 run (including an offensive rebound basket from Keithley and a 10-footer from Schoon that made it 30-24 with 4:36 left. West Side looked dead and tired in the super warm Lowell gym, down 35-26 with 3:11 to play. But the Cougars called time out, regrouped and rallied with six straight points, including two hoops from Davis, who had 10 rebounds. When sophomore up-and-comer Michelle Jones hit a 22-fi)or shot off the right wing, it was 37-35 with 36 seconds to play. Keithley missed a free throw with 30 seconds left and Jones missed another '3'. Keithley rebounded for Lowell and passed to Porento who began celebrating, thinking she'd been fouled. But officials ruled a 10second violation against Lowell, giving West Side one more chance. Jones 25-jumper hit the rim as time ran out.
    "I've never been to the semistate," said McCormack.  
    "I've almost made it but, no This will be my first time."
    It's a year of firsts at Lowell.
END
    




Cedar Lake plans TIF

BY SANDI RADOJA 
Star Correspondent

CEDAR LAKE -- Todd Samuelson of H. J. Umbaugh & Associates made his second appearance in two nights at the town meeting center to explain the impact of creating all economic development area to the council.
    The Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District is expected to generate funds to be used by the Redevelopment Commission to make improvements in the allocation area. The economic development plan includes total reconstruction of 133 Ave. between U. S. 41 and Parrish.
Also planned is a new stoplight at U. S. 41 & 133, intersection improvements there and at 129 and U. S. 41, a new drainage system on the west side of Utopia and more.
    The property commonly known as the "Schreiber Oil property" is expected to be cleaned up and brought up to the current standards of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
    The Council's approval enables the process to continue. Those entities that will be affected by the TIF district will now be notified of the proposal.    
    They are the county, the township, the school corporation, the library, and the Town of Cedar Lake. They will have an opportunity to speak at the Feb. 28 meeting of the Redevelopment Commission which will begin at 7:00 P.M.
    Council members were saddened to learn of the hospitalization of Council President Bob Brannon while vacationing in Florida. Brannon was expected to return and attend Thursday's meeting. He will remain in Orlando until his condition improves and doctors release him.
   In keeping with understandings reached after meetings between council members and Lowell town officials, a motion to resume monthly payments to the Town of Lowell for the Waste Water Treatment Plant passed unanimously. The Town of Lowell has indicated that the original agreement of 1973 and its subsequent amendments will be open for re-negotiation.   
    Members of both town councils will meet in executive session in Lowell on Saturday, Feb. 19 to continue talks.
END
Lake County jail gets funds

BY ANDREW STEELE 
Star Managing Editor

CROWN POINT - County Commissioners signed a contract last week with the U.S. Marshall's Service to house up to 30 prisoners in the Lake County Jail, once the current expansion project is complete.
    According to the 15-year contract, the federal government will pay the county over $500,000 per year to house the inmates, plus $1 million up front.
    U.S. Marshall Michael Carrington called the contract a "win-win" situation. It will gain the federal government much-needed jail space, and the county much-needed cash.
    The county is spending about $29 million to add a 462-bed addition to the jail and renovate the existing jail structure, which is located on the west end of the Lake County Government Center.
    The expansion portion of the project is expected to be completed by Sept. 15, said project manager Robert
Farkas.
    At that time, all inmates will be transferred to the new section, while renovations are done on the old part of the jail.
    The renovation work is scheduled to be completed in March 2001, Farkas said.
    In other business at the Feb. 16 meeting, commissioners approved replacement of a bridge on Clark Road over Beaver Dam Ditch.
END
 

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