SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PREP BASKETBALL REGIONALS : Sleepless Night Precedes a Game to Dream About

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Torrey Hammond, Estancia's lean, 6-foot-5 center, couldn't sleep Friday night.

His muscles were aching after a drill in which he went against two teammates armed with blocking dummies in practice.

His eyes were sore from watching a tape of Estancia's 48-45 loss to Pomona last week in the Southern Section Division III-AA championship game.

But most of all, Hammond kept thinking about a rematch with Pomona in the Southern California Division III championship game Saturday at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. He kept trying to visualize success and even imagined a game-winning shot.

Finally, Hammond, a role player who averages four points a game, dismissed the crazy notion and went to sleep. Little did he know he was about to play one of the best games of his career. It wasn't a dream.

Hammond had 16 points and 20 rebounds in Estancia's 64-40 victory over Pomona and later said it was about time he finally stepped forward and made a contribution in the Eagles' drive toward a state championship.

"I've been waiting to do something, to step forward and make something happen," Hammond said.

To help him prepare, Friday's practice included a drill in which each Estancia player had to make three layups against two opponents armed with blocking dummies.

Hammond was matched against forwards Jeff Hokanson and Matt Fuerbringer in a game of "bruise ball," designed by Coach Tim O'Brien to toughen his team for an anticipated physical game with Pomona.

"You've got to make three shots in the paint with two guys beating on you, and the longer the game goes, the more tired and beat up you get," Hammond said.

O'Brien also showed his team a tape of the last meeting between the teams, a game in which Estancia shot 28% from the field. Hammond's film review was two thumbs down.

"I played really soft," he said. "I didn't score, and I didn't board. I saw some things that I should have been doing that could have helped us win. I kept visualizing them in my head when I went to bed last night."

Counting rebounds instead of sheep was Hammond's cure for insomnia. He rebounded a missed shot with 2 minutes 12 seconds remaining in the third quarter and scored on a layup to signal the start of an 11-0 run for Estancia.

Hammond made a three-point play with 1:34 remaining in the quarter to give Estancia a 39-29 lead, and it was all downhill for Pomona afterward. Hammond's follow of a missed free throw by Fuerbringer pushed Estancia ahead, 60-38, with 1:22 left.

By then, it was time to start making hotel reservations in Oakland.

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