Boys basketball: Griffith holds off Hammond; Bowman romps
By Dennis Churilla Post-Tribune correspondent March 5, 2014 11:34PM
Updated: April 7, 2014 1:32PM
HAMMOND — Hammond scored the game’s first basket in its Class 3A sectional opener with Griffith. But the Panthers responded with an 11-1 run and then survived a rough night at the free-throw line to claim a 49-41 victory.
“Somebody call Virgil Sweet and bring him back from Florida,” Griffith coach Gary Hayes said in reference to the free-throw guru. “For some reason, we always struggle with Hammond.”
Hammond (13-10) got within three points of Griffith a couple of times in the first half. But the Wildcats couldn’t get over the hump as the Panthers took a 26-19 halftime lead behind Anthony Murphy’s seven points.
Hammond made one last push in the fourth quarter behind nine straight points from Deante Rias, including a buzzer-beater to end the third quarter. But a free throw from Griffith’s Erick Johnson halted the run. Johnson came off the bench to lead the Panthers with 11 points and seven rebounds before fouling out.
“(Johnson) played his butt off for us today,” said Hayes. “He came in and gave us a spark with some tough boards and the way he ran the floor.”
Griffith (16-6) also got nine points from Flint Powell and both Anthony and Tremell Murphy. The 6-1 Rias finished with 11 points and nine rebounds for Hammond.
“He’s been that type of gritty player for us all season,” said Wildcats coach Larry Moore Jr. “You play hard and good things happen.”
Griffith (16-6) moves on to a Friday night matchup with Bowman Academy, which routed Lighthouse 111-62.
The Eagles went about their business in the usual fashion. Waves of pressure forced the Lions into 13 turnovers and nine fouls in just the first quarter alone as Bowman built a 27-11 advantage.
The Eagles used every player on the roster liberally, with the notable exception of Davon Dillard, who never entered the game.
“He’s not hurt, no academic issues, he just had to sit the bench because Coach Rea sat him down,” said Bowman coach Marvin Rea of Dillard.