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Girls basketball: West Side fights off East Chicago

West Side's Amari FergusEast Chicago's DentriBrown go after loose ball first quarter West Side High School Thursday evening. | Jeffrey

West Side's Amari Ferguson and East Chicago's Dentria Brown go after the loose ball in the first quarter at West Side High School Thursday evening. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 5, 2013 6:41AM



GARY — West Side built double-digit leads three different times Thursday night against East Chicago. The Cardinals cut all three leads down to single digits before falling to the Cougars 51-42.

Tiajaney Hawkins, who had five points at the half, exploded for 15 in the second half for the Cardinals to lead all scorers with 20.

“These are growing pains, I hope,” Cougars coach Rod Fisher said. “We played pretty good in the first half but not so smart in the second half. We didn’t let Hawkins get involved in the first half, and in the second half we couldn’t shut her down.”

The Cougars (11-1) got some gritty efforts of their own in the victory as Lexus Fox led West Side with 14 points and Marriah Hopkins pitched in with 13.

The game started slowly as both teams turned the ball over early before the Cougars began to pull away halfway through the first quarter. They went on an 11-3 run to take a 14-6 advantage after one.

West Side kept the momentum in the second quarter and pulled away to a 27-13 lead at the half. Two plays defined the first half run as Lessia Smith had an offensive rebound and put back with 2:24 left in the half, and then 24 seconds later Smith took a beautiful pass from Hopkins for a layup. Smith was fouled and drained the free throw to give the Cougars their largest lead of the half at 14.

Fox led all scorers with nine first-half points. She also had three rebounds and two steals.

The Cougars saw their 14-point halftime lead evaporate quickly as an 8-0 Cardinals (6-9) run cut the Cougars’ lead to 27-21 before West Side went on an 8-0 run of its own. Fox hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Cougars their largest lead of the night 38-21.

A layup by Hawkins with 2:48 left in the game got the Cardinals within two at 44-42 before a 7-0 West Side run put the game on ice.

“We didn’t come to play in the first half,” Cardinals coach Eric Kundich said. “We let West Side intimidate us and we played soft in the first half. We called them out at halftime. We have respect for West Side but they’re just another team. We’ve let the rivalry intimidate us for whatever reason. We’ve played five games in seven days, all on the road, and we’re not that deep. So we’re a little fatigued.”



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