GARY | With Hoosier Hysteria right around the corner, teams are making their final preparations for a deep postseason run.
But after Friday night, Hammond may have to go back to the drawing board and West Side may have to just keep doing what they're doing.
Times No. 7 West Side held Hammond scoreless for almost six minutes between the third and fourth quarters and capitalized on many Wildcat turnovers in its 64-48 season-ending win.
"I've led them to water, now they just have to drink it," West Side coach Murray Richards said. "This team is so smart that we only have to tell them how to do something one time and they get it right."
The first quarter was marred by turnovers for Hammond (10-10), as it committed five of its six first-half turnovers in the quarter while only scoring 10.
West Side (11-7) couldn't take advantage, though, as the Cougars missed three consecutive shots on fast break opportunities and only led 15-10 after one.
The second quarter was a much different story for the Wildcats because of Levon Hamilton's efforts by scoring 12, including three 3-pointers, in Hammond's 25-point explosion.
"We were trying to get too many steals. We had to stay in front of our man and get some backside help," Richards said. "I got on their butts pretty hard at halftime."
The butt-chewing must have worked, as the third quarter ultimately came back to bite the Wildcats, as they committed more turnovers (6) than points scored (5) and surrendered a 10-2 run over the last 3:21 of the period.
In fact, Hammond missed six straight shots in the six-minute scoring drought until Hamilton hit another three at the 5:31 mark in the third.
"We got a little stagnant on offense and turned the ball over too much," Hammond coach Larry Moore, Jr. said. "It'll all be cleaned up by next Friday. I can promise you that."
Hamilton led all scorers with 19, while West Side's Arnold Wilson had a team-high 18, including 8-of-8 from the line.