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Boys basketball: West Side has enough to top Hammond

West Side's Christian Jacobs dribbles upcourt against Hammond's Kortrell Castduring their game held Hammond High School Friday February 28 2014.

West Side's Christian Jacobs dribbles upcourt against Hammond's Kortrell Caston during their game held at Hammond High School on Friday February 28, 2014. | Charles Mitchell/for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 2, 2014 6:14AM



HAMMOND — It’s been one of those years for West Side.

The Cougars were ready to push forward with a pretty darn good team — one led by Arnold Wilson, a 6-1 center who was converted to point guard this year by Cougars coach Murray Richards.

Those plans were turned upside down when Wilson was lost for the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in December.

Richards has had to completely retool his team. He can’t tell exactly where it is from game to game but it has shown flashes of quality. The Cougars lost to Munster by a point a couple of weeks ago, they beat Roosevelt and 21st Century but lost at home to Andrean this week.

On Friday, the Cougars took out Hammond, another wounded team, 50-43. The Wildcats are playing without Antonio Poole, their leading scorer and point guard. Poole has missed the last four games with an ankle injury.

Richards was not at all happy with the way his team played. He spent about 15 minutes in the locker room after the game lecturing his guys about intensity and focus.

His point? His guys didn’t really take the Wildcats seriously.

“They just come out here and say, ‘Oh, it’s Hammond,’ ” Richards said. “They tie their shoes just like we tie our shoes.”

Thankfully for the Cougars, some of the biggest set of shoes on the floor belong to 6-6 center Christain Jacobs, a junior. Jacobs finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

After picking up two fouls early and getting shut out in the first quarter, Jacobs came back with an eight-point second quarter.

That was good enough to help turn a four-point deficit into a three-point halftime lead for the Cougars.

Richards has made Jacobs, an active inside player, into the centerpiece of the Cougars’ offense.

“We’re pretty good if we can run it through him,” he said. “We can get some inside-outside stuff going.”

Richards has had to change his style on the bench. Wilson pretty much coached the team for him. Now, he finds himself directing traffic on nearly every possession.

“Got to tell them what to do on every play,” Richards said. “Arnold knew exactly what I wanted.”

West Side stretched its lead to nine points in the third quarter.

Hammond made a fourth quarter run, cutting the lead to three after a 3-pointer by Aaron Haggard with 3:57 left.

That was as close as the Wildcats got.

Hammond coach Larry Moore Jr. wasn’t happy with the way his team played either.

“I didn’t think we competed,” he said. “They got every 50-50 ball and they beat us on the boards.”



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