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HAMMOND — Coming into Wednesday night's nonconference matchup, Bishop Noll and West Side hadn't dropped a game all year. And in a back-and-fourth battle between two unblemished teams, the Warriors used a collective effort to pull out a 67-53 victory at home and remain perfect.

Four players scored in double-figures for Times No. 7 Bishop Noll, including guard Courtney Blakely. The sophomore led the Warriors with 17 points.

"I thought we showed composure," coach Vanita Golston said. "Early in the game, when some things didn't go our way, I think we rushed and started to take some shots we wouldn't necessarily look for immediately within the flow of our offense. But toward the end of the game, we stayed committed to what we do."

Blakely struggled shooting the ball from the field — missing 17 of her 21 shot attempts — but she still found ways to impact the game on both ends of the court. The Warriors used a variety of zone defenses to slow down the Cougars' fast-paced offense, and Blakely took full advantage of her team's defensive strategy.

Since Bishop Noll (3-0) forced No. 6 West Side (8-1) to pass the ball more on offense, it allowed Blakely to jump in the passing lanes on some of the Cougars' longer throws and come up with a few steals.

And when the Warriors finally needed their leading scorer to put the ball in the basket, she did not disappoint. Blakely shot 2-of-12 from behind the arc, but her two makes were crucial. She knocked down a corner 3-pointer during a Bishop Noll run in the third quarter. And after West Side clawed its way back into the game and cut the deficit to one, Blakely pulled up for a deep 3-pointer from the left wing to give Bishop Noll a 54-50 lead.

"We prepare throughout the week and at the end of the day, I have to live and die with the decisions they make out on the floor," Golston said. "It was a confident shot. I'll live with it, make or miss."

The Warriors outscored the Cougars 18-5 in the fourth quarter, and withstood a big night from West Side guard Dash Shaw. The junior scored a game-high 23 points, but was shut out in the final period.

Golston said Shaw is a strong player, but commended her team for adjusting in the second half and making things tough on her. She also credited sophomore guard Rose Fuentes for her role in slowing Shaw down, and being unafraid to pound the glass and come up with loose balls.

She finished the night with 15 points and five rebounds and did most of her damage in the fourth quarter.

"I love the dirty work," Fuentes said. "I don't have a problem at all with doing it. Even for my height, I try my best to do what I can out on the floor."


Sports Reporter

James Boyd is the Lake County prep sports reporter for The Times. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a proud native of Romeoville, Illinois. Before anything else, his main goal in life is to spread love and light.