Javon Porter, Hamilton High West Basketball team goes to the hoop against Ewing High School. Photo by Michael A. Sabo.
By Rich Fisher
Dec. 21: Jay Malloy summed up the post-game talk with his Hamilton West boys’ basketball team by telling the players “If I don’t see you smiling in school tomorrow, I’m gonna be mad at you.”
And this was after a 60-39 loss at Ewing.
But it didn’t feel like a 21-point loss, as Hamilton hung around for most of the game until a decisive 16-2 Devils run in the final six minutes.
“I’m proud of my guys tonight,” Malloy said. “A 21-point loss is never something people think you should be happy about, and I’m not a big believer in moral victories myself. But I asked them at halftime to battle for 16 minutes; and for some guys who had a tough first half to pick it up in the second. I wanted them to play together, play hard, and they did that.”
After Ewing scored 13 straight for a 13-2 lead, Hamilton hovered within striking distance for most of the game but could never put together one lethal run to put serious pressure on the Blue Devils. West got within 17-13, 20-15, 26-21, 30-25 and, with 6:25 left, only trailed 44-37. But Ewing scored six straight and kept pulling away as Hamilton missed eight foul shots in the quarter.
“We battled,” Malloy said. “We only had eight guys in the rotation due to injuries and other things. I’m pleased with the effort, we just have to execute better on both ends of the floor.”
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Hamilton committed a whopping 26 turnovers, including 17 in the first half. They stayed in the game thanks to the board work of Dane Riley, had came off the bench for 11 rebounds, and Chris Charles, who had 10 for the third straight game. Javon Porter led all scorers with 16 points, but Hamilton had virtually no perimeter shooting and finished 7-for-20 from the foul line.
“Our jump shooting right now is not very good and from the free throw line it’s not very good either,” Malloy said. “We’ve gotta work on shooting in practice, we’ve got to condition ourselves so when we are taking these shots late in the games its second nature to them. We’ve got a lot of work to do but I think if they play as hard as they did tonight moving forward, we’ll be OK.”
At least the Hornets (1-2) got to say they were part of a historic night, as it marked the 500th career victory for Blue Devils coach Shelly Dearden.
“I told her we come here a few years ago and they beat us for a sectional championship and James Wright scored his 1000th on us in that game,” Malloy said with a laugh. “There’s always milestones happening when we come here. I don’t like when they happen to me, but hey, if they’re gonna happen, at least I get to see them.”
Steinert girls, Nottingham boys come up winners
The Steinert girls won their second straight, 45-39, over Trenton as Natalie Mehl had 17 points, Tatiana Dorner added 12 points, five rebounds and seven steals, and Jayda Bing had 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Nottingham’s boys barely stayed undefeated, holding off Hopewell Valley 58-56 to improve to 3-0. The Northstars had what looked to be a comfortable 33-21 lead at halftime before the Bulldogs made a game of it after intermission.
The Nottingham and Hamilton girls fell to Hopewell and Ewing, respectively, while the Steinert boys lost to Trenton. All three remain winless.