BOYS BASKETBALL

Fourth-quarter surge sparks Niners

2013-02-19T21:45:00Z 2013-02-19T23:25:05Z Fourth-quarter surge sparks NinersHillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com
February 19, 2013 9:45 pm  • 

MERRILLVILLE | Andrean's boys basketball team hasn't converted a dunk in the last two years.

The last player to accomplish the feat was 6-foot-10 Josh James.

The streak was broken in a 60-52 win against Hammond on Tuesday by the last player on the court expected to jump that high.

DJ Gonzalez, a 5-10 guard, stole the ball 37 seconds into the fourth quarter and leaped into the air. When he came down for two points, the Andrean crowd couldn't stay in its seat.

"I always wanted to be the guy to break it, and we joke around in practice and they make fun of me because I'm short," Gonzalez said. "I just said tonight, 'Hey, I might as well go for it and make a good memory.'"

The dunk was part of a 7-0 run the Niners took in the first 52 seconds of the fourth quarter, turning a 3-point lead into a 10-point advantage the Wildcats couldn't recover from.

"It's nice to get a real burst of energy and DJ was a real spark off the bench," Andrean coach Carson Cunningham said. "He had a fabulous defensive game."

Sam Toporski, who finished with 11 points, had five in the 7-point stretch.

That was all before Hammond took a shot in the fourth quarter.

"When you turn the ball over against a good team, it's tough to come back," Hammond coach Larry Moore Jr. said. "Up to that point, we were playing very close to them. When we made those mistakes, it was hard to come back. I was happy with our effort and execution."

The Wildcats played tight with the Class 3A No. 4 59ers, leading by as many as four points in the third quarter.

Levon Hamilton III had 19, including three 3s, and Cameron Vortice added 11 points for the Wildcats (10-9).

"We want to be playing our best ball now, heading into the sectional," Moore said. "Andrean is battle-tested and we were just waiting for someone to capitalize."

Andrean (16-3) was led by 19 points from Skyler Moss, who added 13 rebounds as he created matchup problems inside for the Wildcats. Nick Davidson chipped in 11 points with 10 rebounds and Toporski had 13 points.

"Skyler was tough to handle down low and we kept moving the ball and moving the ball," Cunningham said. "We got our defense going, then we got a couple of baskets to land."

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