Hammond keeps calm, bests Centennial, 58-55 Bears use patient attack to improve record to 4-1

Boys basketball

December 23, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

The reasons for Hammond's 58-55 road victory over Centennial last night were fundamental.

The Golden Bears took care of the ball well, were patient on offense, and excelled on defense.

Sound fundamental basketball has Hammond at 4-0 in Howard County and 4-1 overall, despite playing without potential 6-foot-4 starter Ryan Pflugrad, who is out six weeks with a foot injury.

Hammond, county runner-up last season, made only seven turnovers and shot 23-for-50 (46 percent) from the floor to end a six-game losing streak against the Eagles. The Bears had four players in double figures.

"Our high for turnovers this season is 11," Hammond coach Mark Murray said. "We played together as a team tonight, and winning this kind of close game on the road prepares you for the state playoffs. Good teams win close games some kind of way."

After two-time defending county champ Centennial (3-3 overall, 2-2 league) made a fourth-quarter run and took a 45-44 lead with 6: 25 left to play, the Bears responded by running a patient motion offense to perfection, getting good shots and making them.

A free throw by Hammond's David Hines (16 points, nine rebounds) tied it at 45, and Jason Boyd (11 points) sank two straight clutch baskets to put Hammond ahead, 49-47.

Andy McShane (19 points) kept Centennial in the game with six fourth-quarter points, and his basket tied it at 49-49. Then a basket by Antiwan Oliver (seven points, six assists), a three-point play by Hines and a layup by Hines put Hammond up, 56-52.

Andres Conejo drove and scored with 42 seconds left, slicing Hammond's lead to 56-54, and when Hammond was called for an offensive foul, Centennial had a chance to tie.

The Eagles were 14-for-18 at the foul line -- 10-for-12 in the fourth quarter -- but Rob Mentz converted only one of two free throws with 17 seconds left.

Then Boyd made a free throw with 10 seconds left to create a two-point Hammond lead, 57-55.

Conejo missed a three-point attempt that would have given the Eagles the lead and Hammond's Pat Lally was fouled on the rebound. Lally (10 points, six assists, three steals) sank one free throw for the final score, 58-55.

Hammond's Pat Gelinas added 12 points and had six rebounds.

Pub Date: 12/23/97

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