Warriors turn long break into big win to advance

Published 1:08 am Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Hamilton Christian had a lot of time to prepare for its Select Division IV regional playoff game Monday night, 17 days to be exact. But other than a brief one-point deficit in the first round, the No. 6 Warriors were in control as they beat No. 11 Ascension Christian 77-37.

“I tell you what, it was a long week off,” Hamilton Christian head coach Dexter Washington said. “Normally, when you take a week off like that, you start a little slow, but we were really able to have some good practices were we were able to match up and compete.”

Ascension Christian (19-13) held the lead for just 14 seconds on a shot by Trevor Russell with 3:31 left in the first quarter. Then the Warriors (15-9) went on a 14-0 run to close out the first quarter. Senior Garrett Humphrey hit the first his three 3-pointers to start the run. He finished with 13 points.

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“It was the Garrett Humphrey show at that time,” Washington said. “We finally got Garrett open. If we get him some open looks, he is going to knock them down. He actually played better tonight on both sides of the floor.”

Hamilton held the Lions to 28.8 percent shooting and beat them on the boards by a wide margin, 38-17.

Sophomore center DeRay Vital led the way with a 14-point, 11 rebound double-double with four blocks.

“Defensively, I thought we did some stuff against that motion stuff that they run that normally people break down. I complement Coach Mack and Coach Dom. They did a great job game planning, and the guys executed it. The big fella (Vital) was really a problem. He has some really big blocks. He is a problem and hopefully he will be a problem next (game).

Hamilton spread the ball around offensively with five players topping 10 points and won its 10th consecutive game. Besides Humphrey and DeRay Vital, Javon Vital finished with 13 points and Destin Love (11) and Shawn Weston (10) came off the bench to combine for 21 points.

Russell and Dylan Spansel led the Lions with 13 points apiece.

Hamilton will travel to No. 3 Southern Lab (24-10) in the quarterfinals. Southern Lab beat No. 14 Sacred Heart (17-16) 76-50 Monday night.

“We are going to get back into the film room, break it down and try to see what we can do,” Washington said.