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Braves fall to Pinewood but no pride lost
The Hamilton High girls basketball season came to a close Saturday when they hosted previous state champion team Pinewood and lost in a rousing and challenging 51-41 battle.
The Panthers showed only a little sign of their team's talent as both sides warmed up, but as soon as the whistle blew to begin the game, Pinewood came out with force.
Hamilton was fouled four times in the first quarter, three of those being drawn from Bekendam, who was fouled throughout the night, and ended her evening 9-of-12 at the line, while scoring 13 points. Bekendam's season points total was 631.
Itzel Duran played well against the pressure employed by the Panthers, and displayed excellent defensive skills right from the get-go. Despite a good defensive effort and the Braves getting points on the board, the Panthers' Angelina Mapa and Marissa Hing each hit three-point field goals that helped give Pinewood a 13-7 lead going into the second quarter.
After a short break, the teams got back to business, as both set about to right the lack of points they scored in the first quarter.
Jordan McCorkle drew a foul taking the ball to the net, and sunk two both throws, giving the team a healthy start. More momentum followed, culminating in a spectacular team effort by Duran who followed a missed shot from teammate Audra Jones, leapt up and grabbed the rebound, and followed it all with a lay-up.
Jones was the rebound leader for the night, grabbing nine rebounds, while also putting nine points on the board.
The Braves kept the Panthers scoreless for five minutes into the second quarter, a significant feat considering the heat coming from the Pinewood side. After a slight lag, Pinewood started making up for lost time, and scored three 3-pointers in a row, giving them the 26-17 lead headed into the half.
Hamilton came out of their half time conference with renewed vigor, and ignited the floor and the gym with their spirit. Sonia Leal took the ball to the net for two points, and grabbed the foul en route, taking her to the line, where she sunk a free throw to complete the 3-point play. Leal threw down nine points on the night.
Hoops came left and right, but so did considerable energy loss, as the Braves out-played and outscored the visiting team 18-12. This run decreased the Panthers lead by only three points, but left Hamilton to recover their reserves in a very short time, as the pivotal fourth quarter was about to begin.
The fourth quarter came quickly, and the steady stream of strong players coming off the bench for the Panthers didn't help the Braves, who were still recovering from a comeback that put them within a single score of a tie. Four 3-point shots from Pinewood did not help matters, as Hamilton struggled to gain back possession of the ball.
Duran appeared to turn a scoring leaf when she pulled off an impressive lay-up after letting a defending Panther jump over her back before planting the ball firmly into the basket, but that would be the last of the mojo able to be stirred up for the Braves. Duran ended her night with six points in the game. After Pinewood's last field goal, they retained possession of the ball in what was obvious gamesmanship/strategy despite how disappointed and fuming it left the Hamilton fans.
With one minute left in the game, the Panthers decided to not bring the ball forward to play on, and the score rested at 50-41. Even the Braves players were perplexed by the visiting team strategy, which was to minimize errors or turnovers. Regardless, it could be viewed as a compliment that the team knew not to test the waters of Hamilton because of their talent and previous run.
The Braves followed their instincts and fouled Angelina Mapa, who sunk one free throw afterward. The score board would not move after this basket, and so ended a valiant season, effort and game for the Hamilton High Braves.
Hamilton coach Mark Priano followed up the game with inspiring words for his teams successful season saying, "We had a tremendous season (30-0) and then we ran into the defending champions. We had a big comeback, and the girls played their tails off. There is no denying the effort that was put into this season."
After the loss, Bekendam retained a sense of accomplishment as well, saying, " I'm very thankful for the teammates I've had, and its been a really enjoyable season. We played great, better than expected and we are all proud."
The Braves finished their season 30-1.
CONTACT Emily Saint-Evens at 824-7990 or firstname.lastname@example.org