Like every other team coming into the Hammond gym, No. 13 Wilde Lake was looking for an upset last night.
But Hammond 6-foot junior Kellye Townsend dominated the Wildecats inside in the third quarter and sparked the No. 2 Golden Bears to a 62-45 win.
Townsend finished with 18 points and 19 rebounds before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter. In the third quarter, she scored 12, including nine in a 15-point run that gave Hammond command.
"That's where we got beat right inside," said Wilde Lake coach Kelly Storr. "Kellye Townsend really did us in tonight. I couldn't find anyone that was strong enough inside to play against her. All the girls did the best they could but we really just couldn't keep her out."
The victory keeps Hammond (11-2 overall, 6-0 league) in sole possession of first place in the Howard County league. The Wildecats (9-3, 4-2) remain in second.
The Bears have won 27 straight games against county opponents. They haven't lost to a county foe since Feb. 17, 1993, when they fell to Mount Hebron in overtime.
Before that third-quarter spurt, sparked by Townsend and some strong defense, especially from Tiki Nicholson and Tameka Harrison, neither team could get the upper hand.
"When we first got on the court, I knew we weren't ready to play," said Hammond point guard Nicholson (nine points, 14 rebounds, six assists). "Everybody was nervous. Everybody was like, 'This is a good team.' I told them you've got to go out there, relax and play your game."
Wilde Lake took its biggest lead at 17-14, and even though the Bears missed 10 of 17 first-half free throws, they came back to take a 20-17 halftime lead.
Beth Linblad's follow gave the Wildecats a 23-22 lead, and then Townsend took over. With 6-1 Rene Hines on the bench with four fouls, Townsend did all the damage inside.
Harrison (20 points, five assists) fed Townsend four times in the quarter. In a six-minute period that ended when Nicholson found Tina Wilmer open for a short jumper, the Bears outscored Wilde Lake 19-5 and took a 42-28 lead.
Wilde Lake never again got closer than within 10, but the Bears needed that big lead to stay calm when all of their big players fouled out of the game in the fourth quarter.
Hines (five points, three rebounds) fouled out with 6:45 to go, followed by Townsend less than two minutes later. Monica White (four rebounds) picked up her fifth 30 seconds after that.
In a game that had 50 fouls, the Bears got some good minutes from reserves Tiffany Myatt and Katie McCartney.
When Wilde Lake picked up the pace and Kristen Riismandel (18 points) hit a layup off a steal, Myatt stopped the momentum. She hit a three-pointer from the corner and Nicholson followed by capping a three-point play on her transition layup.