MERRILLVILLE | Few are those who would want to play Andrean boys basketball coach Carson Cunningham in a game of poker. Especially after his Times No. 4 59ers eked out a nervous 48-43 win over visiting West Side.
Andrean (15-2) played either a very loose man-to-man defense or a matchup zone or some other amoeba kind of defense.
“It's too late in the season to ask that question,” Cunningham said with a laugh.
Whatever it was it handcuffed a very good Cougars team and made baskets seemed as similar as a winning lottery ticket.
Early in the fourth quarter a basket by Lonnie Johnson gave No. 10 West Side a one-point lead. After that it was all Nick Davidson, all of the time.
The Cougars (9-7) did not have an answer for Davidson, who scored eight of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter. Teammate Collin Wojcik scored eight in the final quarter with three huge rebounds and two important steals.
“We've been struggling a lot on offense lately,” Davidson said. “Coach has kept telling me to be aggressive. I was able to get into the lane a little bit tonight. I felt pretty good out there. I just have to make a few more free throws.”
The first half was like Princeton playing a bag of wet sand. A calendar could've been used as the shot clock as both teams spent plenty of time in their half-court offenses.
With a game at that snail pace, the shots weren't falling in rapid succession.
The 59ers led 8-6 after one quarter and 17-14 at halftime. Davidson had eight points at the break and A.J. Gonzalez had six. Six different Cougars scored in the first 16 minutes but no one had more than three. JaRe' Glover's 3-pointer in the first quarter was it.
Johnson came off the bench and scored 10 second-half points to lead the Cougars.
West Side had three unforced turnovers in the fourth quarter with the game tied or within one possession.
“Again and again and again,” West Side coach Murray Richards said.
This is the second game in a row against a Top 5 team in the state that his team had a chance to win late. Munster was the other.
“The turnovers are killing me,” Richards said. “We had too many turnovers and we couldn't hit a shot. But we're getting closer. One of these days we're going to pull one of these out.”