Hammond rips Atholton, 63-42

February 06, 1993|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

Hammond coach Jack Burke says his Golden Bears have been searching for an identity. If last night's 63-42 rout of visiting Atholton is any indication, the Bears should be recognized as a team that can wreak havoc in a variety of ways.

Hammond (5-3, 6-6) might be the fastest improving team in the county. The Bears overwhelmed the Raiders in every way imaginable.

Start with Hammond's pressure defense. It forced eight third-quarter turnovers to create a 17-4 run that broke open a slow-moving game that Atholton (3-5, 7-9) preferred. Hammond's 21-16 halftime lead grew to 38-20 after three periods.

Then there's sophomore guard Mike Matthews, who in his first varsity season is playing like a senior. He finished with 12 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.

Then there's the Bears' depth. Kris Jefferson, considered by some to be the county's premier guard coming into the season, now comes off the bench and provides a different kind of spark. His nine-point, six-rebound, three-assist, three-steal performance had Atholton reeling for the final three periods.

Then there's guard Cinque Crutchfield, who comes off the bench with Jefferson. He turned the game around last night by scoring his game-high 17, all in the second half, which included two three-point baskets and 11-for-13 at the foul line. He hit seven of nine free throws in the fourth period.

"Everybody is contributing. Everybody is coming off the bench and doing what they are supposed to do. Playing together is the only way to play," said point guard Kelvin Stevens, who should know. He scored only two points last night, but his four assists, three steals, steady ball-handling and hustling defense kept the slower Raiders frustrated.

"We're not as good as we can be, but we're getting there," Burke said. "We've got another step to take. We've got to move to the next level."

It took the Bears two quarters to reach that level last night.

After opening with an 12-2 run and holding Atholton scoreless for the first four minutes, the Bears watched Atholton run off the last six points of the quarter to close to 12-8. Midway through the second period, a 12-foot jumper by David Bowyer (team-high eight points) brought the Raiders to 16-14. Jefferson scored Hammond's last three points to give the Bears a 21-16 halftime lead.

Hammond broke open the game in the third quarter. The Bears scored the first six points, then capped an 11-4 run with two layups by Jefferson and four free throws by Crutchfield, who staged an offensive clinic in the fourth period.

He made seven consecutive foul shots sandwiched around two three-pointers. His final free throws gave Hammond a 59-34 lead with two minutes left.

"We're still searching for an identity as a unit," Burke said. "I think we're starting to get an identity, and it's kind of scary."

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