Boys Basketball

Hamilton beats Lakota East to reach first D-I district final since 2007

FAIRFIELD — The Hamilton Big Blue are headed to the district finals for the first time since 2007.

Andrea Holden got them on their way with a thunderous dunk Saturday afternoon and finished it with an alley-oop slam.

The senior big man scored a team-high 17 points, Marlon Reed added 12 and Hamilton knocked off Greater Miami Conference rival Lakota East 55-50 in a Division I district semifinal at Fairfield Arena.

“It’s special,” Big Blue coach Kevin Higgins said. “A lot of people doubted Hamilton. A lot of people say stuff about us. But these kids were the heart of this town today. They were the heart of this city. They were fantastic. So, hopefully people take a lot of pride in what they just accomplished.”

Hamilton (15-9) has won three in a row and will face Sycamore in the district finals on Sunday, March 10, at Xavier University’s Cintas Center at a time to be determined.

The Big Blue beat Fairfield and Lakota West during the 2006-2007 postseason to advance to the district finals before falling to St. Xavier 44-37.

“I don’t set goals,” Higgins said. “But that’s the only goal I had when I took this job — to see if we can do that one more time.

“I don’t think people realize that I’ve been here for six years and four out of those six years we’ve won 13 or more games,” Higgins added. “We’ve been to three sectional finals. We’ve been a lot better than what people think.

“This group is special. They stay connected. Last couple of years? No. That’s one thing we preach to these guys in the offseason is that everything is about being connected.”

The Thunderhawks led 9-5 in the first quarter before the Big Blue knotted it up at 19-19 with help from a Holden jam and an old-fashioned 3-point play.

“We played together the whole game,” Holden said. “Even with the ups and downs, we just stick together.”

Lakota East shot 11 of 20 from the floor in the first half and took a 30-23 advantage into the half. Thunderhawks junior Trey Perry scored 11 of his game-high 23 points in the first two quarters. Tyler Bachman had nine points for Lakota East.

“We got a little rattled in the second quarter,” Higgins said. “They did a great job. I think we made a dumb move when we went a little outside of what we do defensively. We went a little box-1 on Trey Perry, and that was a bad move on my part. We kind of corrected that in the second half.”

Hamilton outscored Lakota East 22-14 in the third quarter and shot 14 of 19 (73.7%) collectively in the second half to obtain most of the momentum the rest of the way. The game saw 16 lead changes.

“I thought we did a good job. Our guys made plays,” Higgins said. “What a comeback and what an effort by our guys. It’s a really unique group, and they have stuck through it. They’re not perfect. We have our ups and downs, but damn, they do compete. You can’t replace that.”


Reed and his Big Blue teammates were energized the last couple of days. The junior guard said Hamilton’s coaching staff provided the pregame goods.

“He did feed us great this past week with Chick-fil-A,” Reed joked. “We’ve got full stomachs. We came out playing.”


Lakota East (12-13) began the season 7-2 before enduring a six-game losing streak. The Thunderhawks road a roller coaster into the postseason then knocked off LaSalle and St. Xavier to reach Saturday’s district semifinal.

“It was obviously up and down,” Lakota East coach Clint Adkins said. “… Tonight was kind of a microcosm of our season. Look at all of our losses. They were by 5 points or less. It was usually some kind of breakdown or a missed block out or something critical in a critical moment that leads to that loss.”


Lakota East graduates eight seniors in Luke Adkins, Ty Smyers, Elijah Perry, Derek Jackson, Jacob Stringer, Bayze Wieland, Carter Breslin and Bachman.

“It’s as good of a group of young men that I’ve been around,” Adkins said. “… My heart goes out because I’ve got a son in that grade, and I’ve known all of these kids since they were in first and second grades. That part, it’s brutal. It’s absolutely brutal to know that you’re going to lose this group you’ve been so close with.

“I’ll never coach one of my sons ever again. That finality really hasn’t set in yet, and when it does, that will be really hard to swallow.”

The Latest

To Top