HAMILTON — Kevin Higgins’ old team made his new team work hard for a victory Friday night.
Higgins, in his first year at the Hamilton High School boys basketball helm after directing Lebanon’s program the last four seasons, watched his Big Blue fight off the Warriors for a 48-47 triumph at Garfield Middle School.
HHS improved to 4-3 with its third straight win and helped Higgins celebrate his 42nd birthday.
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“Our defense picked up in the fourth quarter on the press,” he said. “We went full-court press. We weren’t very good with it earlier in the game, but later in the game we were good. Guys made plays and made some stops and luck to pull it out. It was a really tough game.”
The fourth quarter belonged to Hamilton, which outscored Lebanon 17-9. The Warriors got a late 3-pointer to make it 48-47 before falling to 3-5.
“Going on the road, we gotta make sure we do the little things,” Lebanon coach Nathan Chivington said. “There were some little things we allowed to slip on us. I thought our guys executed well, but we have to make sure to pull in rebounds and play much better team defense. We’ve got to be able to finish.
“Basketball is a game of runs. Whether it’s in the third quarter or the fourth quarter, we got to be able to withstand them. Once again, we allowed them to have a big run near the end of the game. We had trouble stopping, but I like the way our guys finished. This is our seventh game we played down to a last-second shot or overtime. We are gaining some tough experience because of it.”
Jaylen Robinson led Big Blue with 22 points, five assists, five steals and three rebounds.
“The last two games, coming off of wins, we just tried to play together,” the senior guard said. “The key was defense in this game. It made the difference.”
Neither team led by double digits in this low-scoring affair. The Warriors were ahead 27-22 at halftime and 38-31 after three periods.
Trey Robinson had 10 points and six rebounds for HHS. Kurtis Reid contributed nine points, including two 3-pointers, and Romello Diablo crashed the boards for six rebounds.
Zach Huffman had 12 points and four boards for Lebanon, which shot 53.1 percent from the field, yet committed 17 turnovers. Sammy Stotts tossed in 10 points, and Mile White added nine points and six rebounds.
Big Blue will travel to Springfield on Saturday night. The Warriors will be at home against Springfield next Friday.
LEBANON (3-5): Milo White 4 1 9; Sammy Stotts 2 4 10; Nick Lang 2 0 5; Zach Huffman 5 0 12; Luke Arnold 1 0 3; Zach Weber 1 0 3; Alex Martin 2 1 5. Totals: 17-6-47
HAMILTON (4-3): Trey Robinson 4 2 10; Jaylen Robinson 9 3 22; Braedyn Jackson 1 2 4; Ke’Von Burnett 1 0 3; Kurtis Reid 3 1 9. Totals: 18-8-48
3-pointers: L 7 (Stotts 2, Huffman 2, Lang, Arnold, Weber), H 4 (Reid 2, J. Robinson, Burnett)
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