“We had a great team meeting on New Year’s Day that I think will help us as a team,” Hamilton coach Sean Van Winkle said. “People have to remember we are kind of young and inexperienced. We didn’t want to be 4-4 but we finished 2017 that way. We wanted to be positive and focus on being better in the new year.”
D’Marco Howard had 13 of his game-high 19 points after halftime while Cameron Benson had 11 of this 13 and Jaylen Robinson had 12 of his 13 after the break for Hamilton. The Big Blue led only 20-17 at half but extended to a 33-24 lead after three quarters before breaking it wide open in the final stanza.
Lakota West full court pressed in the fourth quarter and the Big Blue took advantage, outscoring the Firebirds 27-10 in the final stanza.
“We struggled in the first half but it was nice to come out and play well in the second half,” Van Winkle said. “We only had four turnovers (in the second half) and had a lot of assists. Our guards did a good job finding the open man and our defense was solid.”
Hamilton blocked 10 shots and held Lakota West to 25 percent shooting in a performance that left Firebirds coach Matt Rooks searching for answers.
West shot only 14 of 54 from the field, 1 of 13 from beyond the arc and 5 of 13 from the charity stripe while falling to 3-6, 1-4 GMC. West turned the ball over 12 times and allowed Hamilton to grab 13 offensive rebounds.
“I am disappointed in our effort,” Rooks said. “In my mind the game was won on the glass and they absolutely killed us on the boards. I give a lot of credit to Hamilton High.”
West got six points from Max Kiker and Myles Greenwood while Jared McCorkle chipped in five points and six rebounds.
“We played timid,” Rooks said. “I felt our guys backed down to Hamilton in the second half. We played soft. Then again, you are not going to win many games when you shoot the ball as bad as we did.”
Bryan Henderson had eight points and 12 boards for Hamilton while freshman Kurtis Reid had 10 boards.
The Big Blue, 5-4, 2-3 GMC, hosts Colerain Tuesday while West hosts Fairfield.