Boys Basketball

‘We brought it today’ — Hamilton spoils Lakota West’s GMC title chances

HAMILTON — Hamilton High School’s boys basketball team understood the assignment.

“We told our kids, ‘You don’t want them celebrating on your home floor,’” Big Blue coach Kevin Higgins said. “I think that was basically the major motivation.”

Hamilton, instead, celebrated on Senior Night.

Andrea Holden scored a game-high 14 points and had seven rebounds, Deon’dre Tillery chipped in with 11 points, and Hamilton played the role of spoiler to perfection with a 56-45 victory over Lakota West on Friday night at the Hamilton Athletic Center.

Hamilton trimmed Lakota West’s chances of capturing its first Greater Miami Conference title since 2012-2013. With Sycamore beating Lakota East, those chances were eliminated completely. The Aviators took this year’s conference crown outright — their first GMC championship since 1997.

“It was just about coming in here and upsetting them on their championship run,” said Big Blue senior forward Mason King, who had eight points and seven rebounds. “When we won this game, they weren’t going to have a chance to celebrate on our court. That’s all we really came in here thinking.”

“If it’s got to be Sycamore, it’s Sycamore,” Higgins chimed in. “But the team that’s going to win it isn’t going to be on our home floor. That’s kind of the motivation tonight.”

Hamilton (13-9, 10-6 GMC) has won the last three meetings against Lakota West (14-7, 11-5 GMC) including a 41-30 triumph on Jan. 12 in West Chester.

Tyson Davis scored nine points to lead the Firebirds, while Bryson Curry and Isaiah Meade-Moss added seven apiece.

“We didn’t play well,” Lakota West’s assistant coaches said on behalf of head coach Kelven Moss, who did not come out of the locker room to talk to reporters after the game.

Big Blue led 13-7 at the end of one quarter, but the Firebirds were able to tie it 22-22 at the half by shooting 9 of 20 (45%) from the floor.

Holden slapped a block off the backboard, received an outlet pass on the way back down the court and laid one in while getting fouled to close out the third quarter with the game tied at 32.

That got the home crowd to their feet and gave Hamilton its fourth-quarter momentum.

“It was a big atmosphere,” Tillery said. “It felt really good. It was a high-energy game the whole time. A lot of defense. We just brought it today.” 

King slammed one home in the fourth quarter to cushion the Big Blue lead. Hamilton shot 13 of 17 (76.5%) from the free-throw line in the second half.

“This team did a really great job this year,” Higgins said. “We got to the last week of the season with a chance to win the league, and I don’t think anyone would have predicted that. We told them to stay positive with that, but understand, you don’t want to let those dudes celebrate a league title here.”

“It was a good experience for the seniors,” added King, who transferred from Fairfield this season. “I love my seniors, man. I came back here to play with all of my friends I grew up with — since I grew up here. So, it was a very good experience.”

Both teams begin Division I sectional play next. Lakota West faces West Clermont on Thursday, Feb. 22, at 7:30 p.m. at Fairfield. Hamilton plays the winner of Fairfield and Harrison on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m.

“I think we’ve shown that we can play with really good teams this year,” Higgins said. “That’s the goal and the objective. Obviously, we’ll have a tough one — and I’m just going to say that it’s probably going to be Fairfield — because that’s just what I’m going to say.

“We’ve got to be ready to go. We’ve got some days to get ready and get better. We’re excited about it. It’s good to have a little bit of momentum going into this thing.”

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