Tara Zammichieli of Hammond sank her first seven shots in last night's Class 2A, West regional semifinal against Centennial at Hammond, and five of those were three-pointers.
She scored 19 of Hammond's first 25 points. Her performance stunned Centennial.
The No. 17-ranked Eagles made just two of their first 13 shots and fell behind by 18 points early in the second period.
The No. 12-ranked Golden Bears went on to win, 59-46, and advanced to tomorrow's finals at Middletown. The Knights defeated Walkersville last night, 46-44.
"This game and the Howard game were my two best shooting games," Zammichieli said. "I'm in a rhythm now, and my three-point shot has finally come around in time for the playoffs. That's when you really want it."
Centennial (16-8) started in a man-to-man defense and that suited Zammichieli just fine.
"I'll either beat my girl or collapse the middle and pass off," said the Hammond standout.
Zammichieli averages 16 points, but she scored 26 last night and had 12 assists and nine rebounds.
Zammichieli's three-point basket gave the Golden Bears a 19-6 lead after one quarter.
"We came ready to play," Hammond coach Raymona Jackson said. "Their mind-set is there as far as going all the way [to a state title]. They're ready."
Centennial had split two previous games with the Golden Bears, but the Eagles' win was early in the season. Hammond beat the Eagles by 17 points last week.
The Eagles have posted an 11-0 record at home, but a 5-8 mark on the road, so coach Ed Trout entered last night's game with some legitimate concern.
"We don't shoot well on the road, and Hammond came out and shot the lights out. We thought a man-to-man would work. It didn't. And by the time we switched to a triangle-and-two that slowed them down, it was too late," said Trout. "We needed to keep the score in the low 50s."
Hammond's biggest lead was 18 points, 37-19, with 4:48 left in the third quarter.
Centennial, sparked by Jasmine Hammond (23 points), launched a moderate comeback and cut the gap early in the fourth quarter to 45-35. That's as close as it got. Chanel Paye of Hammond sank back-to-back baskets, one of them a three-pointer.
Two more times Centennial cut the lead to 10 points, before Melissa Workman scored six points in the final two minutes to preserve the victory. Workman finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Hammond was supported by a boisterous cheering section of about 15 boys dressed in togas.
"I think they [Eagles] let the crowd get to them early in the game," Trout said. "Hammond has really learned how to win."