Boys Basketball

Holden powers Hamilton past Fairfield in D-I sectional win

Fairfield’s Raymir Coney boxes out Hamilton’s Peyton Davis on Wednesday night.

WEST CHESTER TWP. — Andrea Holden put on a show that was worth the price of admission, in a circumstance that was worth the Hamilton Big Blue taking a first-round bye.

Holden scored a game-high 26 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and threw down a slew of monstrous dunks as No. 13 seed Hamilton snapped a seven-game losing streak to No. 20 Fairfield with a 63-45 Division I sectional victory on Wednesday night at Lakota West.

“We really had to get this one,” said Holden, Hamilton’s 6-foot-6 senior forward. “The one that matters.”

Big Blue coach Kevin Higgins opted to take a bye to open up the tournament, which set up a third matchup between the two Greater Miami Conference rivals after Fairfield beat Harrison.

The Indians defeated the Big Blue twice during the regular season, including a 55-51 overtime win on Feb. 13. Hamilton hadn’t won since its 57-40 victory in the sectional tournament on Feb. 21, 2020.

“I’m going to be honest. A lot of people have lost against them in the last three years,” Higgins said. “I think a lot of people have got that streak.”

Hamilton led from start to finish Wednesday to advance to a district semifinal against Lakota East on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Fairfield.

“I thought our guys played with great energy,” Higgins said. “… It feels good. These kids have really worked hard all year, and to get Fairfield or whatever off our back, I’d rather take this win than the other ones.”

Hamilton’s defense has created most of its offense throughout the season. The Big Blue fired 25 of 43 (58.1%) from the floor, including 7 of 14 (50%) behind the arc Wednesday — their second-best offensive performance of the year behind 59% shooting against Edgewood on Jan. 20.

“They shot it really well — 50% from 3,” Fairfield coach DJ Wyrick said. “They made plays when they needed to make them. It seemed like when we always started to make a run, they had an answer for it.

“Watching that game, they were very connected,” Wyrick added of Hamilton. “When bad things happened, we went on the start of a run, they stuck together. There were no excuses being made — no fingers being pointed. They just kind of stayed the course. They were ready to go. So, you’ve got to give them credit for being ready.

“We played them twice, and we played them well. When you approach the game the same way and come up with the same preparation, you should expect a similar result. There was no added pressure based on the fact that we beat them twice in the regular season. They just outplayed us tonight.”

Fairfield junior and leading scorer Kam Sanders missed his third game in a row due to injury. Sanders averaged a GMC fourth-best 14.7 points a game.

Hamilton out-rebounded Fairfield 30-17 — with Holden snagging nearly half of Big Blue’s boards.

“He’s a high-level athlete,” Wyrick said of Holden. “He’s a handful. It’s got to be a team effort to block him out, a team effort to rebound. We just struggled a little bit tonight. You’ve got to give him credit, too.”

“He’s a man among boys. He left no doubt tonight,” Higgins added. “We told him low in the paint, and he sure did. He was a monster.”

Hamilton sophomore guard Austin Paige scored a career-best 18 points and made 4 of 5 shots from 3-point range.

“We came to play,” Paige said. “They beat us two times in the regular season, but come tournament time, we had to come out with the dub. … I found a way to get my shots. They kept going in, so I kept shooting. If not, I found my teammates.”

“He was big time,” Higgins added of Paige. “We do believe in him. I know a lot of people don’t know much about him, but he can be a special player. You don’t see kids that small who can play like that. He’s one of them. He’s unique like that.”

Hamilton led 15-7 after the first quarter and 26-18 at the half. Holden slammed home four dunks, and Paige knocked down his handful of 3s to the keep the momentum in Big Blue’s favor.

“We did a good job on the fly with adjusting,” Higgins said. “We made big shots and big plays. I thought we got a ton of transition. We thought we could score in transition. So, we worked on it on those 10 days with playing faster.”

Daviawne Crim had a team-high 21 points, and Cash Ingram added 13 to lead Fairfield. The Indians graduate senior Lucas Davids, who supplied a leadership mentality since Day 1.

“I don’t know what this team would be if Lucas Davids doesn’t come out for the team,” Wyrick said. “He provided for us a major void. We lacked toughness at times. We lacked competitiveness. We lacked selflessness. He provided those three things at a high level. We would have loved if it would have been a little more contagious, but it didn’t work out that way.

“This probably stings. It should sting. It better sting. But we just need to remember this feeling and use it as motivation for next year.”

The Latest

To Top