Boys basketball: Hamilton falls short in district semifinals

Hamilton’s best season in 13 years came to an end Friday night.

St. Xavier topped Hamilton 49-39 in a Division I district semifinal at Fairfield High School.

Big Blue finished 18-7, its best campaign since 2007, when it won the Greater Miami Conference and finished 17-6.

Five seniors, including leading scorer Trey Robinson, played their final game.

“It’s gonna hurt, but they need to keep their heads up,” said Hamilton coach Kevin Higgins said. “They’re always going to be a part of the Big Blue family and I’m excited for what the future holds for each one of them.”

»PHOTOS: Hamilton falls to St. Xavier

The Big Blue seniors led a program transition from a below-500 team in 2017 to the eighth seed in the Cincinnati region this season. Higgins, Hamilton’s coach the last two years, said the five players have created change in the program.

“I don’t think people understand how much they did,” said Higgins, emotionally. “To win 18 games, I don’t think anyone thought we would do that… That’s a testament to what those guys did every day.”

Putting up his 11th 20 point-plus game this season, Robinson overcame a slow start to lead all players with 22 points. He also had seven rebounds. The 6-foot-6 guard will continue his basketball career next fall at Northern Kentucky University.

Hamilton’s offense struggled with the pressure of the Bombers’ defense, scoring only 7 points minus Robinson’s contribution. Big Blue, which averaged over 57 points per game, shot 5 of 15 in the second half and turned the ball over 12 times.

“They are one of the best pressure defense teams that we’ve seen all year,” said Higgins. “I thought that would be an issue and in certain stretches it was.”

The Bombers (16-7) controlled the game from the opening tip and never relinquished the lead. Kobe Rodgers and Hank Thomas combined for 30 points.

Rodgers, a junior, also led the Bombers with four rebounds and three assists. His hot start, shooting 6-of-7 from the field, helped St. Xavier shoot 75 percent in the first half. Thomas, the leading scorer in the Greater Catholic League South Division, finished with 13 points and shot 75 percent from three-point range.

St. Xavier advances to face GCL South rival La Salle next Sunday in a district final at Xavier University’s Cintas Center.

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