HAMMOND | Christmas is over. The unofficial start of the second half of the boys basketball season tipped off Tuesday night around Indiana.
The pulse quickens. The games mean more. Such was the case when Lew Wallace laced them up at Hammond, just a block away from the Civic Center where this year's sectional will be held.
These two teams will be lead combatants when the Class 3A Hammond Sectional starts at the end of February.
Last year the two teams played in the sectional championship game with the Hornets winning 80-64.
Throw in that two of Hammond's starters, Levon Hamilton and Michael Kirkendall, played for Wallace two years ago, and it added to the intrigue.
But much like Monday night's BCS National Championship game, few were those who expected such a score. Wallace's tide rolled all over Hammond, 78-57.
Wallace had a 33-point lead in the third quarter.
The Hornets (7-5) jumped out to a 43-14 lead at halftime. It was complete and thorough. Donte Mister scored eight of his 10 first-half points in the first quarter. Charles Cooper nailed two 3-pointers in the first eight minutes and had 12 at the break.
“I believe that was the finest first half we've played all season,” Wallace coach Melvin Yancey said. “We had two turnovers. We shot the ball well. We played good defense. The kids played really well.
“This was a really important game, because we're going to see Hammond again. They're a very good shooting team. (Levon) Hamilton is one of the better shooters in the area.”
Hammond (6-4), which had its three-game winning streak snapped, did not hit a field goal in the second quarter. The 'Cats struggled hitting shots around the basket all night.
Hamilton did hit three 3-pointers in the third quarter, but it was too late by then. He led the 'Cats with 15 points.
“No. 1, we didn't handle their pressure at all. We played on our heals,” Hammond coach Larry Moore Jr. said. “They were more aggressive. It's disappointing, because we didn't compete. They beat us good on our home floor, and they're a sectional opponent.
“This was very disappointing.”