EAST CHICAGO | West Side coach Murray Richards knew his team would have to do well at the charity stripe. Especially since The Times No. 10 Cougars were playing big-time rival on the road in East Chicago.
“On the road, you have to make free throws to win the game,” Richards said. “You have to be able to take advantage of what they give you.”
The Cougars (8-5) got the message. They shot 20 of 28 from the line, including 11 in the final quarter, on their way to a 53-40 nonconference win over E.C. Central.
West Side used an 8-0 run to open things up, getting transition baskets from Denzell Casson and Arnold Wilson after turnovers.
Jumpers by TreQuan Burnett and Anfernee Brown brought the Cardinals back within two. Then sophomore Christian Jacob buried a pair of jump shots to make the score 16-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Hyron Edwards opened the second quarter for the Cardinals with a pair of 3-pointers to bring them within four, 18-14.
After a timeout, the Cougars settled down and extended their lead to 25-14 behind two more baskets from Wilson.
Rebounding was the key. West Side held a 17-10 board advantage at the half.
“The battle of the boards played a huge role,” Richards said. ““We have been rebounding much better the last few games, and we needed it tonight.”
Defense took over in the third quarter. The Cardinals (8-6) closed the gap to 33-27 behind 3-pointers from Brown and Edwards.
We needed to have patience on offense,” Cardinal Coach Abe Brown said. “We needed to take what they gave us and stay under control.”
The Cardinals worked to keep West Side out of the paint, and had success until the final quarter. The drives in the lane by West Side resulted in a total of 15 shots from the foul line.
“We needed to limit their penetration down the middle,” Brown said. “We needed to push them outside and not let them have the lane. We executed well for the first three quarters”
The Cougars countered the press with a motion offense against a potential sectional opponent..
“The best way to break their press was to counter with movement,” Richards said. “We did a better job as the game went on.”
Brown led all scorers with 20 points. Wilson had 15 for West Side.