Hamilton shoots down Wolves
Sometimes, basketball really is about just putting the ball in the hoop — and the host Hamilton High Braves did a better job of that than Trinity on Wednesday night.
Hamilton drained 53.3 percent (23 of 45) of its shots, including 6 of 11 (54.5 percent) from beyond the arc to cruise into the second round of the Northern Section Div. V Playoffs with a 60-35 win over the Wolf Pack.
The No. 6 Braves (17-10) will play at No. 3 Weed on Friday.
"Hamilton shot the ball very well tonight," Trinity coach Jaime Green said. "When a team shoots that well, they are hard to beat."
The Wolves shot a dismal 24.6 percent (14 of 57) from the field, and missed all six three-point tries.
More troubling for Trinity (12-15) is the fact most of those 57 shots came on second-, third- and even fourth-chance tries. The Wolves dominated the boards, and particularly on the offensive end, but the work never paid off in points.
"It was disconcerting. They were getting most of their points off of offensive rebounds," Hamilton coach Brian Erickson said.
He watched as his club was out-rebounded 12-4 in the opening quarter, and eight of Trinity's rebounds came at the offensive end.
"I was frustrated to tell you the truth," added senior captain Shea Shull, who scored a game-high 17 points, matching teammate Ricky Pompa.
"I was thinking if we were ahead and they were getting all the offensive rebounds, then what would (the score) be if we would block them off the board," Shull added.
Despite losing the battle on the glass, Hamilton did take a 15-8 lead after the first period. Shull, Austin Burbank and Leland Prior each had 4 points.
Erickson felt his team did a better job of preventing second-chance tries over the final three periods, but particularly in the second quarter when the Braves outscored the Wolves 20-12 to run out to a 35-20 lead at intermission.
Hamilton had little trouble breaking Trinity's halfcourt zone press in the period, collecting several easy buckets to pad the lead.
"Teams that break our press beat us; teams that don't break our press don't," Green said.
The Braves knocked down five of their first six shots, three created on the press break. Hamilton was 8 for 13 from the field in the quarter.
Pompa had the first of those buckets off a nice assist from Burbank in what was the sophomore's best offensive showing of the year.
Pompa was averaging 3.3 points per game coming into the contest, and Shull said the effort gave the team a lift.
"I think everyone got into the momentum of the game," Shull said. "And then we had a guy (Pompa) that hadn't been scoring that much (who was) scoring, and that gave us a lot of confidence."
Erickson said his team has not shot the ball that well this season, although the Braves have improved over the recent weeks.
"I can't really call it," added Shull. "I think we have worked harder in practice and have taken the shooting drills more seriously."
Erickson thinks the team's shooting success has a lot to do with moving the ball around for good shots, and he can't dismiss what good defense can do for a club's offensive output.
"We were taking good shots, we were aggressive and I think we got to the loose balls," Erickson said.
Any chance Trinity had to get back into the game probably ended when a scoring freeze blew into the gym to open the second half.
The teams combined to miss their first eight shots before Isaiah King broke the ice for the Wolves with his only bucket of the night to make it 35-22.
But Hamilton went on a 16-6 run to close out the quarter, which included three 3-pointers, two by Shull and one of those from NBA-range.
Shull and Pompa each had 7 points in the period, leading the Braves to a comfortable 51-28 lead.
After that, it was just a matter of finishing out the game.
Burbank finished with 13 points for the Braves, who had seven players who scored.
Trinity was paced by Jasper Lafein and Erik Watson with 10 points apiece.