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EAST CHICAGO — When two two-time defending sectional champions are meeting in the first week of December with a win between them, you know two things are certain.

Much of the Division I talent both programs have produced in recent years are now playing on television.

And there are a lot of new faces on both the Crown Point Bulldogs and E.C. Central Cardinals.

On Tuesday night at the John A. Baratto Athletic Center, the fans were on their feet and screaming in a thrilling contest between two very young teams.

C.P. won the game 61-58 in overtime in a clash that had 11 lead changes and 10 ties.

The biggest play of regulation occurred with 1:30 left in regulation, with the Cardinals having the ball and holding a four-point lead. E.C.'s Louis Williams was fouled.

A scuffle over possession of the ball ensued and Williams shoved a Crown Point player and was called for a technical.

The Bulldogs' Elias Gerodemos hit both free throws on the T, then on the next possession Matt Hanlon was fouled and he nailed both freebies.

E.C. coach Marcus Jefferson, coaching his first game inside the gym where he starred for the Cards two decades ago, wasn't happy with the call.

"That was highly questionable," Jefferson said. "It should've been a warning to both players or a double technical. That was a crucial point in the game.

"We lose possession and they get back in the game and force overtime."

Hanlon, who scored 12 points and had three assists, didn't see a lot of time on the floor last season when Crown Point had a dominant senior class. The new notion floated through his mind as he took the ball inside the noisy gym.

"That was the biggest stage I've ever been on," Hanlon said. "My legs were gassed, everyone was screaming. I just thought about shooting them like I do in practice."

The Bulldogs (1-2) had two seven-point leads in the second half, but some untimely turnovers allowed for the Cards (0-2) to fight back.

For both teams, finding the guy to take a key shot in crunch time is something that is a work in progress.

"We're young. We're so very young," C.P. coach Clint Swan said. "This is a great win for us to get. It is always hard to come in here and get a win."

Gerodemos led the way with 21 points and nine rebounds. Sam Decker added 12 with four boards, as Crown Point won the battle of the glass 36-28.

"We need to hurry up and get as much experience as we can real quick," Swan said. "(Gerodemos) grew up a little tonight. Hitting those four free throws down the stretch was big for these guys."

The Cardinals Josh Morgan led the way with 15 points and eight rebounds. Shammon Williams had 14 points and Bryson Jenkins had 10 points and seven boards before fouling out.

"We have a lot of new guys unfamiliar with varsity basketball," Jefferson said. "We have to play and keep playing so we can find out who we are."


Sports reporter

Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.