MERRILLVILLE | Class 4A girls basketball has a big problem.
Every team has to deal with South Bend Washington's outstanding starting guard combo of Tiara Murphy and Camille Coleman for the rest of this season and all of next year.
The juniors combined for 58 points in their team's 97-94 overtime win over Times No. 4 Merrillville on Saturday night.
"One can get to the basket and the other can shoot; they feed off each other," SB Washington coach Moe Scott said. "Every time Coleman scores like that, we win."
Merrillville (9-5) started the game hot, as it made seven of its first nine shots from the floor. The Pirates exploded for 24 points in the first quarter, which included two 3-pointers from freshman guard Jasmine Wright.
SB Washington (12-4) hung tough, though, scoring six of the last 10 points in the frame and only trailed by three after one.
After dribbling around the Panther defense and making a scooping left-handed layup at the 19.9 mark, Merrillville senior guard A.J. Downs was involved in a jump ball and she got tangled up with SB Washington's Breonda Green.
Downs' body snapped back on top Green and her knee bent back awkwardly, sending her to the locker room and out for the rest of the game.
"She'll be re-evaluated on Monday," Merrillville coach Amy Govert said of Downs, "but we don't think it's as serious. We'll see what happens."
Despite committing 11 turnovers in the first half, the Pirates took a 46-39 advantage into the half.
Murphy, a Purdue recruit, gave the visiting Panthers the lead with 2:17 left in the third and wound up having 14 of her 27 total points in the quarter.
Coleman, who is being looked at by Western Michigan and Ball State among others, had 10 of her game-high 31 in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Merrillville senior forward Victoria Gaines scored 18 of her team-high 25 points in the second half, including 11 in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Scott acknowledged that they wanted to keep a close eye on Gaines.
"We wanted Gaines to give the ball up and make someone else beat us," he said.
Govert was proud of the way her team handled itself.
"We took huge steps tonight, and we did it with young kids," she said. "Turnovers will happen in a game like this, but we played the whole second half and overtime without our floor leader."