Lady Lions end skid with win over Hatley

HAMILTON – A win over county rival Hatley couldn’t have come at a better time for the Hamilton Lady Lions.

Melissa Meador/Monroe JournalHamilton's Mary Willis searches for an open teammate to pass to as Hatley's Mary Reeves guards her under the basket on Friday night.

Melissa Meador/Monroe Journal
Hamilton’s Mary Willis searches for an open teammate to pass to as Hatley’s Mary Reeves guards her under the basket on Friday night.

The 46-36 win over the Lady Tigers ended a six-game losing streak for Hamilton, who came out of the Monroe County Tournament in January with just two losses, both to 5A school New Hope. The win was the fourth of the season for Hamilton over Hatley.
“They wanted this win bad, especially after losing those six in a row. They were ready for a win,” Hamilton coach Sue Verner said. “They really picked up the intensity in the fourth quarter and played hard.”
Hatley opened up the game with a 7-0 run, with free throws from Mollie Comer, a 3-pointer by Lachelle Vance and a basket from Briana Dobbs, and that would be the largest lead for either team until the end of the game.
Alainey Hughes, Mary Willis and Sarah Garvin all scored for Hamilton (16-8) to cut the lead to one, and a pair of Christy Willis free throws made it tied at 9-all the end of the first.
The two teams exchanged leads in the second quarter, with Aaliyah Verner’s long two-point basket ensuring Hamilton its lead going into the break.
Dobbs hit a 3 to give Hatley (13-9) the lead back midway through the third quarter, and Jamelle Vance stretched it to 4 with her basket. Garvin tied it back up for Hamilton, but Jamelle Vance put the Lady Tigers back ahead. Abby Cantrell’s basket and free throw gave them a 31-26 lead going into the fourth.
Another back-and-forth quarter saw another couple of lead changes. Hughes put down a basket, and Myiah Dobbs hit a pair of free shots to put Hamilton back ahead, but Jamelle Vance countered with another basket. Christy Willis tied it up with a two-point shot of her own, and Mary Willis put Hamilton ahead for good with hers.
Verner said the Lady Lions have had to fight through injuries to starters Verner, Hughes, Mary Willis and Christy Willis during the losing streak.
“Basically, we weren’t healthy as a team in those six games. We were trying to play through injuries,” Verner said. “A couple of those losses we got frustrated with each other, and in the last week or so, I’ve been seeing them come back together as a team and get hungry for a win. Those six losses may have been a good thing for us in the end.”
Verner said she hoped the win would be a good momentum builder with just a week left in the regular season.
“I’m trying to get them to understand that it’s almost playoff time and district tournament time. Sometimes you have to play through minor injuries, and they’re finally understanding that,” Verner said. “Anything’s possible for us now.”
Christy Willis scored a game-high 14 points for Hamilton while Mary Willis was also in double figures with 10 points. Dobbs led Hatley with 12 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals, while Lachelle Vance was also in double figures with 10 points.
The win puts Hamilton solidly in fourth in Division 1-2A with Hatley right behind them in fifth and sets up a possible first-round matchup between the two in the division tournament.
“That’s a scary thing when you’re talking about trying to beat a team five times in one year. It’s going to be tough,” Verner said. “They’re always well-coached, and we always know they come ready to play.”

(B) Hamilton 60, Hatley 54
The Lions grabbed their third win of the season over Hatley with their strong fourth-quarter showing.
Deion Hampton’s 3-pointer tied things up at the start of the fourth, but Hamilton’s Ben Seely and Caleb Garvin combined to score the next 8.
Dru Stanford’s 3 and Jeremy Sims’ basket and free throw brought the Tigers back to within 2 later in the quarter, and Troy Rowell countered with a pair of free throws for Hamilton.
Seely’s two-pointer and free throw stretched Hamilton’s lead back out to seven in the closing minutes.
Seely scored a game-high 30 points for Hamilton. All five Hatley starters scored at least 7 points. Hampton led the Tigers with 13 points. Sims and Stanford each scored 12 points, while Houston Woodman and Jonathan Waycaster had 10 and 7 points respectively.