GARY | The West Side girls basketball Class of 2015 was packed with talent and dominating the Cougars' offensive categories for two seasons.
Then Dana Evans arrived.
Now the juniors are taking their roles as role players seriously.
It wasn't easy at first. They were used to ruling the floor, with the offense rolling through them.
Instead, they checked their egos at the door.
"I’ll be honest, at first it was a transition, because last year I was one of the ones scoring all the points," junior Lexus Fox said. "Then you have to look at it as ‘we’re all winning, so you have to do what you can for your team.’"
"To me, it doesn’t faze me as long as I’m helping my teammates get the win, it doesn’t affect me," junior Ashley Danzy said.
While Evans is averaging more than 20 points per game, the role players are picking up the slack as West Side heads into today's Penn Regional averaging 67.2 points per game.
The Cougars will play Northridge at approximately 11:30 a.m. in the second semifinal. Juniors Danzy, Fox, Tinon Hunter and sophomore Jerrica Neal have helped them all get to that spot.
"None of them are going to go score 20-25 points per game, that’s not their role," coach Rod Fisher said. "If we can get 30 out of those four players combined, we’re in good shape."
West Side won last week's Lowell Sectional without three suspended seniors, requiring the juniors to make an even bigger leap forward.
In a semifinal win against Lake Central, Hunter scored nine points and Neal picked up a team-best eight rebounds. With a win over host Lowell on Saturday, West Side won its first sectional title since 2009.
“One of our goals this year was to win sectionals, and we’re trying to take it one game at a time instead of looking directly at state," Hunter said. "We’ve achieved one goal, but not the biggest goal yet.”
The ride through the playoffs has helped West Side's role players realize their importance, even if they're not leading the team statistically anymore.
"Nobody really sees that it could be a good basket, but it came because of a great pass," Fox said. "We do the little things that nobody sees.”
Fisher knows that by now, the secrets are out about his team.
"Sooner or later someone is going to really key on Dana. Nobody really has yet, and if they have then we’ve been able to get the ball to her pretty easily," Fisher said. "Everyone has to be ready. Amari (Ferguson) was ready against Lake Central and it’s the best game she’s played all year. Lexus, she was ready against Logansport and even though she only had five points, you add, (nine) rebounds, five steals, five, six points, all that adds up to a pretty good game."