8-0 closing run lifts Hammond, 51-47

Bears stifle Middletown in finale's last minutes

Class 2A West girls basketball

High Schools

March 02, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

MIDDLETOWN -- Tara Zammichieli sank two free throws with four seconds left to seal Hammond's 51-47 victory over Middletown in the Class 2A West Regional girls basketball championship game last night and send the Golden Bears to the state semifinals.

Hammond trailed 47-43 with just under three minutes to play but held Middletown scoreless the rest of the way.

The No. 12 Golden Bears (20-6) struggled in the first quarter, making one of their first 13 shots and missing several layups.

"It was just jitters," said Zammichieli, who had 23 points, eight assists and eight rebounds and shot 11-for-13 at the foul line. She was held to five baskets on an outstanding defensive job by Middletown.

"It was extremely stressful being behind most of the game, but I was seeing it not as the end of our season but as when were we going to take the lead," Zammichieli said. "We didn't hit the boards and box out well enough until the end. Middletown was a quality team."

Hammond coach Raymona Jackson said: "Middletown did a good job on defense, but we didn't work the ball enough. And no one was rotating to the baseline out of our man-to-man defense. They were killing us there. But good teams find a way to win. This is unbelievable."

Hammond switched to a 1-3-1 zone in the fourth quarter, a move that Middletown coach Kara Nelson called a "key" to the game.

"When they went 1-3-1, we panicked a bit and didn't mentally make the switch," Nelson said.

Middletown (17-8) sank two baskets in the fourth quarter and scored nine points. The Knights entered the quarter with a 38-37 lead and made it 45-40 with five minutes to play.

Hammond standout Melissa Workman (22 points, 14 rebounds) went to the bench with her fourth foul at 4:03. Fortunately for the Golden Bears, Zammichieli had just converted a three-point play, cutting the Middletown lead to 45-43.

Jena House converted one free throw off Workman's foul. House was fouled again and converted one shot for a 47-43 Middletown lead.

Workman came back and scored two straight baskets to tie the score at 47. Zammichieli made it a 6-0 run with a short jumper, and Hammond had its first lead of the fourth quarter, 49-47.

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