INDIANAPOLIS | Hammond's boys basketball program in recent years has been kind of like your weird uncle who shows up on Christmas Eve, then never leaves. The Wildcats have spent almost all of their time close to home.
“It's been a while,” Wildcats coach Larry Moore Jr. said of the last time Hammond played a boys basketball game in Indianapolis. It's been at least 25 years.
So when the Wildcats were invited to participate in Saturday's IPSAC/Midwest Showcase at Indianapolis Marshall High School, Moore jumped at the chance.
And senior Cameron Vortice was sure glad the 'Cats played Indianapolis Washington.
“It was his breakout game,” Moore Jr. said.
Vortice hit four 3-pointers in the first half and fellow guard Levon Hamilton went 3-for-3 from long range as Hammond edged Washington 56-53 in the opening game on Saturday morning.
Vortice earned MVP honors as he had a game-high 20 points with four rebounds and four assists.
“I believe it was,” Vortice said with a smile when asked if this was his break-out game. The 20 points were a career high. “I was getting some great kick-out passes. I was getting my feet set like coach says. My hands were ready to receive the ball and I let it go.
“It feels great. We've got a nice thing going before the New Year and we want to keep it going.”
The Wildcats (5-3) also got 15 points from Hamilton and nine points from Michael Kirkendall.
“It makes me feel good when (Vortice) gets going,” Hamilton said. “We had good ball movement. We moved the ball from side to side and got some good looks. We're all seniors now. This is all we have left. We have to keep going strong.”
The Continentals (3-5) did tie the game at 51 with 54 seconds left in the game. Kirkendall, though, got an old-fashioned “3” with a bucket and a free throw. After a Washington deuce, Nate Harris hit two free throws with 16.5 left in the game.
Hammond played good defense on Washington's final 3-point attempts, which missed.
“Those are the guys I expect to score at the end of the game,” Moore Jr. said. “(Hamilton and Kirkendall) have been doing this for a year plus. I want the ball in their hands at the end of the game.
"Harris hit two big free throws for us and had a very nice floor game. We'll take this, enjoy the holidays and get back to it next week.”