Hammond erases 13-point deficit on way to 6th straight win, 56-52

Centennial's Hill: Missed free throws doom Eagles

Boys basketball

January 28, 2001|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

After a shaky start to the beginning of the season, the Hammond Bears say they're refocused, rejuvenated and ready to make some noise.

You can bet after yesterday's 56-52 home victory over Centennial, the rest of the league is listening.

It was about as graceful as an elbow to the stomach at times, but the Bears pounded the glass and made the important free throws, rallying from 13 points down in the second half to earn the win, their sixth in a row.

"This is pretty much our biggest win yet," said Hammond center Damien Jones, who led his team with 15 points and 10 rebounds. "We really came together as a team today. It was all about teamwork and hitting the boards."

Certainly, it was all about Hammond (9-5, 6-5 league) in the fourth quarter, as it outscored the Eagles 20-8. But for the most part, it came down to free throws: Hammond made them, Centennial didn't.

"That was the difference in the game, the free throws," Eagles coach Jim Hill said. "If we'd made our free throws, we'd have won the game."

Centennial (8-3, 10-5) started out quickly behind the play of guard Scott Kincaid, who was a step ahead of everyone during key stretches. In the midst of one second-quarter run, Kincaid buried a three-pointer, stole a pass for a layup, buried another three-pointer, then flipped a pass on a fast break to teammate Bill Brudis for a layup. At one point, the Eagles led 42-29 and looked like they would make it a rout.

But Hammond didn't fold, despite being without coach Mark Murray, who was sitting out in accordance with county rules after he picked up two technical fouls against Wilde Lake on Jan. 19.

Assistant coach Ricky Lee urged his team to rebound with everything it had, particularly Jones, who missed a few easy shots in the first half and didn't follow them up. He rose to the occasion late, however, scoring twice on put-backs in the final two minutes.

Centennial had a chance to tie the score with 10 seconds left, but a three-pointer by Brian O'Connor came up well short. Kincaid led all scorers with 19 points, but Centennial shot only 4-for-12 from the line in the final period.

"We made shots when we had to; we defended them when we had to; and we stepped up in a big game," Lee said. "No predictions, but if we keep playing well, we can make it interesting in the second half of the season."

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