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Steve Hanlon: Unbeaten Lowell girls hoops thankful for historic win at Hanover Central

By Steve Hanlon

JP Correspondent

CEDAR LAKE -- The world can be a tough and chaotic place.

It’s been this way since Eden.


But when folks come together like a family and celebrate special events, it often brings smiles, laughter and love.

Such was the vibe at Hanover Central on Tuesday night as the Lowell Red Devils rolled into town to take on the Wildcats.

Then, unfortunately for the visitors, the first half happened.

“We weren’t very good,” Lowell coach Kelly Chavez said.

And that was an understatement.

Poor shooting, especially from the perimeter, sketchy defense and mediocre defense allowed Hanover to lead 20-13.

“The offense wasn’t going, the defense wasn’t going,” Chavez said. “But the girls stayed relentless. They did what they had to do.”

Chipping away at the lead, the Devils took their first edge with 2:29 left on a free throw by Kahlan Krucina. And that name ended the parade like Santa in a sleigh.

Senior point guard Kaylee Chavez took the ball past her defender and delivered a perfect bounce pass to Krucina and the 5-foot-11 senior hit a perfect left-handed bank shot with nine seconds left to give Lowell the 31-29 win.

She had missed two similar shots earlier in the final eight minutes.

“Yes, finally,” Krucina said of lifting her team to a 7-0 record, the first time the program has sported that record since 2013-14. “I did not want to let my whole team down.”

Krucina scored eight of her 10 points in the second half.

“We just had to get back to normal,” Kaylee Chavez said of the second half. “We had to keep our energy, steal the ball and get our transition game going. We went to the 4-corners and when I got her the ball I knew she was going to make it.”

The celebration after the Devils defended the Wildcats (2-4) for the final seconds of the game was all over the east side of the court.

And now with Thanksgiving a day away, the program had a chance to think about better times. Better than the first half anyway.

“I can’t wait to eat my grandma’s stuffing, it’s a sage stuffing,” coach Chavez said. “She taught me how to make it and I’ve been making it my whole life. I’m looking forward to eating that, I always look forward to that.

“And I know I’ll sleep better tonight.”

Like many, the go-to flavors of Lowell’s senior leaders are miles apart. But dining and saying thanks is something Krucina and Chavez are looking forward to.

Especially after a dramatic win.

“For me, it’s definitely ham,” Kaylee Chavez said with a smile. “Nothing special. We buy it at Strack's and put it in the oven. After that, it’s pumpkin pie with a lot of whipped cream.”

Krucina was proud to say she hates sweats. Except for ice cream, which she said she might have a little on Thursday.

Kaylee Chavez and Kahlan Krucina teamed up to lift Lowell to a 31-29 win over Hanover Central on Tuesday, lifting the Red Devils to 7-0. Now the girls are looking forward to some tasty Thanksgiving food. Photo by Steve Hanlon

“It’s nothing special but I like turkey a lot,” Krucina said. “Even if it’s more expensive this year.”

High school sports have always brought some light to dark times. It gives people wearing different colors to come together and enjoy a game together.

As we all think about what we have to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, I pray that our nation can come together, even if we have different political signs in our yards.

That is a way we can stop the madness -- screaming at each other over every little thing -- and find a way to search for peace.

That is my prayer this time of year.

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