Boys basketball: West Side wins for sixth time in eight games
By TOMMY WILLIAMS Post-Tribune correspondent February 22, 2013 11:14PM
West Side's KiJuan Tipton and Tyrell Bullock try to stop Hammond High's Mike Kirkendall in the first quarter at West Side High School Friday night. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 24, 2013 6:16AM
GARY — One thing that was proven in Friday night’s West Side-Hammond season finale: the Cougars are good listeners.
And West Side coach Murray Richards gave them a lot to listen to at halftime.
“I had to jump on their butts at halftime,” Richards said. “I didn’t like the way we played defense in the first half.”
Thanks to Richards’ urging, the Cougars defense improved in the second half, especially on Hammond guard Levon Hamilton in the final two quarters. West Side turned a two-point halftime deficit into a 64-48 win to finish the season winning of six of its last eight. Hammond limps into the playoffs on a five-game skid.
“We’ve still played some good basketball, especially in the last two games against some quality teams,” Hammond coach Larry Moore Jr. said. “We will look at the film and it will be cleaned up by next week.”
As in their previous game with Andrean, the Wildcats (10-10) had a strong first half against the Cougars, especially in the second quarter. Hammond, led by Hamilton’s 12 points in the quarter took a two-point lead at the break.
One Richards halftime speech later, West Side (11-7) shut down the Hammond offense, holding the Wildcats to 13 second-half points. Arnold Wilson’s 10 points in the final two quarters helped seal the deal for the Cougars.
“And now we get ready for the real season next week,” said Richards, who won two sectional titles as a West Side player. “We (as a coaching staff) have led them to water, so now they have to drink it.”
Wilson, who didn’t start because Richards had an all-senior starting lineup in honor of senior night, was the top scorer for the Cougars with 18 points. Hamilton had a game-high 19 for Hammond.