Despite two sprained ankles, Hammond's Sonia Keiner scored a game-high 20 points and led the No. 2 Bears to a 49-28 victory over visiting South Carroll in the season opener yesterday.
Keiner displayed an offensive versatility that frustrated the Cavaliers. She hit one three-pointer. She scored from deep range five times, on inside shots twice and also made five free throws in six attempts.
The 5-foot-9 senior guard averaged 10.5 points last season, but stepped up yesterday when Hammond's overall shooting was off. The Bears shot just 31 percent (20-for-64) from the field.
Hammond's pressure defense held South Carroll to an even worse shooting percentage of 21 percent (11-for-52).
"We played an experienced and well-coached team that plays excellent defense, and even when they made offensive mistakes, their defense got them back into the game," South Carroll coach Al Skierski said. "I hope to get my team to value defense and play it that way."
Hammond forced South Carroll into 36 turnovers and made 24 itself.
"We just couldn't handle the pressure, and when we did beat it, we got nervous and couldn't score," Skierski said. "I knew they'd press and we didn't handle it as well as I hoped."
Keiner scored seven points in the first quarter when Hammond pulled away to a 16-4 lead by hitting seven of 16 shots. South Carroll was shooting 1-for-14.
South Carroll shot much better in the second quarter (5-for-10), but 13 turnovers in that period kept them playing catch-up. Hammond led 35-15 at halftime.
"They controlled the game. Their leadership showed," Skierski said. "They play a physical game and the officials let them play it. We have to learn to play that physical.
The teams combined to score just six points in the third quarter, when both teams appeared tired from the hectic first-half pace.
Hammond played without injured junior guard Tiki Nicholson, who averaged 10.8 points, five rebounds and 3.5 steals last season.
Hammond made just one of 10 shots in the third quarter. South Carroll made one of 13 shots and missed its first 11.
Nicole Spencer, expected to be South Carroll's leading scorer this season, missed repeatedly from short range. She did lead her team with nine points, however, and had seven rebounds.
Melissa Gettemy played a hustling defensive game and led the Cavaliers with nine rebounds.
The Bears got a good defensive effort from Amy Hansen who filled in for Nicholson. But Hansen went scoreless.
Kacy Williams scored 12 points for the Bears, followed by Tameka Harrison with nine.