Subscribe for 33¢ / day

HAMMOND — Opening night of the 3A sectional at the ageless Hammond Civic Center tested the mettle of Clark, Gavit, Griffith and Lighthouse.

Each had faced more detours than the Kankakee River at flood stage.

Clark has one sectional win since 2012 and finished the regular season losing six of its last seven games.

Gavit dropped nine straight early in the season, had nearly half its 17 losses come by seven points or less and hadn't won a sectional since 2004.

Griffith was three-time defending champ, had rebounded from a 1-5 start, and has a new coach.

Lighthouse, with three head coaches the last two seasons, was allowing 77.3 points per game.

Fans got their money's worth Tuesday night as Clark stunned Gavit, 73-69, behind senior Jeremy Shannon's 33 points in Game 1. George Tucker III led Gavit with 29 and Justyn McClinton had 18.

Griffith rallied from an earlier 20-6 deficit in the nightcap to eliminate Lighthouse, 81-70.

The Panthers had 33 turnovers, Lighthouse 31.

"I can't emphasize how resilient and focused Jeremy Shannon is, given the culture around school of losing," Pioneers' coach Jason Hill said. "He's all in. He's been like that his entire career."

Shannon scored 23 of his points after the break.

"When I first got here as a freshman, the team was 0-22 the previous season. I just wanted to make a difference," he said. "I like to see my teammates happy and if it's not working, then I take over."

Darrell Reed had 12 points and 13 rebounds for Clark (5-18). Shannon grabbed 10 and freshman Derrius Ross scored 14.

"My uncle coached me in AAU and told me to get every rebound I can," Reed said. "We're a hard-working, fearless, motivated team. We don't care how big you are, how fast you are."

The hectic pace of the Griffith-Lighthouse game made a fire drill seem like recess but down the stretch, the Panthers were more aggressive and it paid off at the line.

"It was nerves. They've never been there before," coach Grayling Gordon said of his rebuilt squad and its erratic play. "We spent a week preparing for (Lighthouse's) pressure but they got us early.

"At the end, the right people got the ball."

Kyle Iwinski led Griffith (14-9) with 18 points and 10 rebounds, Jake Dye had 16 points and 13 boards, Mike Kantor scored 14 and O'Shawn Lee had 11.