Hamilton West Junior Gabbie Fonollosa goes up for 2 of her 20 points scored in the Hornets win over Florence. Photo by Michael A. Sabo.
Jan. 23: Wins have been tough to come by for the Hamilton West girls basketball team over the past season-and-a-half, but the Hornets are suddenly on one of their hottest streaks during that time.
Tonight’s 52-39 victory over visiting Florence put Hamilton’s record at 3-11, and those three wins have come in the last five games.
“This was so great,” said junior Gabbie Fonollosa, who led Hamilton with 20 points. “This is one of the first times since I’ve been here that we’ve had three wins close together in the middle of the season instead of scattered all through the year.”
“This is great,” added junior Arianna Venceller, who scored 19 points and hit numerous big baskets. “We work hard each and every game and it feels nice to get the win with my team.”
The Hornets have at least eight games left to try and surpass last year’s win total, and they hope to have Mikayla Hall back from injury sometime soon. The best news is that most of tonight’s key contributors were underclassmen, as Hamilton’s future is potentially bright.
Dami Adigun, the lone senior in the rotation, was scoreless but had eight rebounds, sophomore Liz Kelly had four points and seven boards and freshman Cierra Acevedo, one of the smallest players on the court, had six points and 10 rebounds.
At one point in the game, Acevedo grabbed an offensive rebound and Florence coach Gina Smith told her team “Did you see that little girl get that rebound? You know why she did? Because she works hard.”
Hamilton led for most of the game, but a three-pointer at the buzzer pulled Florence (5-9) within 15-14 at halftime. West answered with a 16-2 run to start the third quarter, with Venceller scoring nine points during that stretch.
The Hornets took their biggest lead at 40-20 and, after Florence cut that margin in half, Hamilton answered with a 7-3 spurt to regain firm control.
While coach Joe Radice was happy with the win, he did not like the way Florence nearly got back in it. “Arianna’s shooting in the third quarter obviously put us in a very good position,” Radice said. “We were able to extend the lead to something I wasn’t sure we would be able to do. But then, that’s kind of where I got upset. We figured ‘Hey, we built this lead,’ and they just wanted to go through the motions after that instead of playing hard buzzer to buzzer. Even when we lose games we play buzzer to buzzer. Tonight I didn’t get that, so I just let them know I was a little upset with that. But we’ll definitely take the win. Any win is a good win.”