HAMMOND | In the first two minutes of the fourth quarter of Friday's boys basketball sectional semifinal, Lew Wallace turned a two-point lead against Griffith into a win.
The Hornets forced the Panthers into five straight turnovers, which became a 10-0 run and an eventual 69-55 Lew Wallace win.
"We're always going to be aggressive, but I told the team they have to play good defense," Wallace coach Melvin Yancey said. "We needed to play full-court and half-court defense."
The Hornets will play Hammond, the 52-49 winner over Gavit, at 7 p.m. today at the Civic Center for the championship.
Griffith took a 22-10 lead after the first quarter behind 12 points from Tremell Murphy (who finished with 21), but the Panthers wanted to push the ball inside.
"Even though we were having success, it was fools gold," Griffith coach Gary Hayes said. "It seemed too easy. We needed to get the ball to (Ben) Parish. The game was too quick, it wasn't the pace we wanted."
Trevon Boddie, who came off the bench, scored 18 points for Wallace, including four 3s. Charles Cooper led all scorers with 23 points, Ulzena Sullivan added 13 and Keonte Bridges had 11.
In the early game, Gavit held a two-point lead at halftime, but was outscored by the Wildcats 15-8 in the fourth quarter, including 6-of-12 at the free-throw line.
Hammond had chances to put the game away late, but hit two of its last six free throws.
"It's been that way all season against Gavit, I expected it, I knew it was coming," Hammond coach Larry Moore Jr. said. "I said 'keep making plays, make the most of every possession, get the rebound, take the charge, whatever you have to do.'"
The two teams combined for 38 turnovers. Levon Hamilton III had 20 points for Hammond and led all scorers. Michael Kirkendall added 12 points for the Wildcats (11-10).
Shalon Bell scored 7 points to lead the Gladiators (12-11).
Gavit went 11-of-17 from the free-throw line while Hammond finished 14-of-25.
"We knew it was going to come down to the wire and in the fourth quarter we missed too many rebounds," Gavit coach Brandon Ridenour said. "What were we from the line? There's the three points right there."