Lady Lions hit break with just one loss

HAMILTON – The Lady Lions are off to their best start in years with their 12-1 beginning to the season.
But for Hamilton coach Sue Verner in a division with the defending 2A state champions, she’s quick to remind her team that the season is just starting.
Hamilton capped off the strong start to the season with double-digit wins over county rivals Amory on Thursday and Smithville on Friday. The Lady Lions topped the Lady Panthers 54-28 and beat the Lady Noles 50-10.

Melissa Meador/Monroe JournalHamilton's Mary Willis heads down court after a steal against Amory on Thursday. Willis is one of four senior starters for the 12-1 Lady Lions.

Melissa Meador/Monroe Journal
Hamilton’s Mary Willis heads down court after a steal against Amory on Thursday. Willis is one of four senior starters for the 12-1 Lady Lions.

Verner said she wasn’t pleased with her team’s attitude in either win.
“I reminded them that our season is just starting in January. This has been kind of like practice leading up to the regular season,” Verner said. “We start division play in January, and I told them that they’re going to have to step up.”
The Lady Lions are anchored by four senior starters – Mary Willis, Christy Willis, Aaliyah Verner and Alainey Hughes – and a freshman in Myiah Dobbs. Verner will be out for three-four weeks after surgery on her leg, but her return is hopeful for shortly after the Monroe County Tournament.
Mary Willis got Hamilton off to the hot start with two early baskets on Thursday with a Dobbs two-point shot in between to give the Lady Lions a quick 6-0 lead over Amory. A 16-2 Hamilton run in the second gave them a 35-10 lead at the half, and the Lady Panthers were never able to close the gap. Hughes finished with 12 points, while Dobbs scored 10 points in the win. Ashley Thompson had 13 points for Amory in the loss.
On Friday against Smithville, the Lady Lions jumped out to a 15-0 lead after the first with Dobbs scoring nine of those points. She scored 17 points in the win.
Hamilton held a 25-3 lead at the half, with Smithville getting on the board with a pair of McKayla Martin free throws and one from Laken Armstrong. Armstrong finished with five of Smithville’s 10 points.
Verner said she thought the double-digit wins hurt her team in some ways.
“We’ve played some teams that have been pretty decent but our last real competitive game was Hatley, and I think we’ve kind of had a little letdown right now,” she said.
Hamilton will get back to action on Jan. 4 against 5A school New Hope, who handed the Lady Lions their sole loss of the season a few weeks ago.
“We have them at home, and I’m hoping that’s going to be the difference. We’ll come out with a better attitude going into that game,” Verner said.
Division play for Hamilton starts on Jan. 7 at Okolona, and the biggest test of the season will be a Jan. 15 trip to New Site.
“I want them to come out of the break ready to play. Twelve and one is what it is,” Verner said. “We’ve got New Hope coming out of the break, and I think that’s what we need right off the bat before division play starts.”