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Girls basketball: West Side falls to SB Washington

Updated: January 3, 2013 11:06AM



GARY — Rodney Fisher’s new persona got its biggest test Saturday afternoon.

Before the season, the West Side coach, known for his fiery approach on the sideline, said he would a kinder, gentler soul this season, a change in demeanor that was made much easier by his Cougars not only winning their first three games, but winning the last two by the combined score of 133-16.

But eventually in basketball, Fisher’s personality face-lift would be challenged. And sure enough, on Saturday it was put to the test by South Bend Washington and guard Tiara Murphy.

The poker-faced sophomore had 30 points, including four straight free throws in the final seconds to hold off a furious West Side comeback from 14 points down in handing the Cougars a 76-73 loss.

It looked like West Side (3-1) would stay unbeaten after taking a 19-12 lead after one quarter. But turnovers and Murphy’s nine-point second quarter gave Washington a 37-31 lead at the half.

“We just about controlled the first quarter, but we had two girls with two fouls and we had to put the bench in,” said Fisher about his Cougars who turned the ball over 21 times in the first half. “We had a difficult time breaking their press without some of our starters in and dug ourselves a big hole.”

That hole was as deep as 50-36 with 4:20 left in the third quarter when a non-starter led the comeback. Lexus Fox’s 16 second-half points, along with 11 points in the final two quarters by starting guard Amari Ferguson, helped the Cougars tie the game at 72 with 1:20 left in the contest.

That’s when free-throw shooting decided the game. Murphy hit hers and West Side couldn’t, including a couple misses that could have tied the game in the final seconds.

“I reminded the girls of the East Chicago Sectional loss last year when we made only 13 of 31 from the free throw line,” Fisher said. “There’s a reason they call them free throws — they’re free.”

The Cougars shooting from the charity stripe was a paltry 12 of 26. By the way, Murphy was pretty good at that aspect of the game, too, in going 21 for 24.

Fox had 23 points for West Side, while Ferguson added 15.



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