EAST CHICAGO | When Hyron Edwards is on top of his game and getting his opportunities, E.C. Central is pretty tough to beat.
The Times No. 6 Cardinals gave the hometown crowd a taste of both possibilities in a 73-51 win over visiting South Bend Clay in which Edwards scored 35 and picked up seven steals.
"They came out like they wanted to be at a fashion show," coach Abe Brown said. "Come out and play basketball, get refocused and get ready to go and I think they did that."
The Cardinals (2-1) looked like two different teams between the first and second quarters.
E.C.C. jumped out to a 21-9 lead after eight minutes, led by Edwards' 14. But Edwards managed just one point in the next frame and Clay cut the lead to only 30-26 with 1:25 left before the break.
"We talked to each other in the locker room and said 'Let's get it, guys,'" Edwards said. "I think the refs got to us a little bit, with touch fouls and we talked about playing hard and getting this win."
It was 33-26 at halftime.
"We got a big lead and they lost focus," Brown said.
Martavious Richmond was the only offense for the Colonials (0-2) in the first half. No other Clay player scored until Jalen Clark hit a free throw with 4:25 left in the second quarter.
Edwards and company took over in the second half. The Cardinals junior led the show with steals that lead to fast break points, including crowd-pleasing dunks by he and Damien Jefferson.
Edwards also called for the ball at the top, taking defenders off the dribble to get to the rim or the free throw line. He also hit six 3-pointers on his way to 35 points.
"The fourth quarter felt good because we just played as a team," Edwards said. "With the game on the line and we need a bucket, I made some plays for my team."
Richmond led Clay with 28 points. Jefferson had 17 for E.C. Central.