Rusty Warriors can’t get over hump against Dunham

Hamilton Christian did the hard part in its comeback attempt against Dunham but couldn’t convert the freebies in the Tigers’ 49-45 win in the opening round of the Showdown in the Lake tournament.

Hamilton (0-1) cut a 23-point deficit to one, but never got over the hump, missing a chance to take the lead three times in the final 2 minutes after getting within 46-45. The Warriors’ final three possessions ended with two misses and a turnover.

Dunham (4-1) dominated the first half, rolling to a 30-11 halftime lead. Hamilton couldn’t buy a bucket from the field or the free-throw line, finishing 8 of 18 from the charity stripe.

But the Warriors changed defenses midway through the third quarter and went on a 16-2 surge to get within nine points going into the final quarter.

“We went to a run-and-jump defense, trying to speed the game up,” Hamilton head coach Dexter Washington said. “Deion Ware got a dunk and that kind of changed the atmosphere. We didn’t get enough good looks; we need to work on that.”

Hamilton opened the fourth quarter with an 8-2 spurt, capped by a put-back basket by Ware to get within 42-39. Dunham responded with baskets by Shad Levy and Laramie Guidry to stretch the lead to seven. Hamilton held Dunham scoreless on eight consecutive possessions and got a pair of baskets from Ware and one from Mason Russell to pull within 46-45.

Levy made three free throws in the final 27 seconds to seal the win for Dunham. He finished with a game-high 18 points. Guidry added 11.

Russell led Hamilton with 15 points. Ware finished with 13 and Neiman Sullen added 12, including seven in Hamilton’s third quarter surge.

Washington said the Warriors have room to grow.

“They showed how hard they could play and we were playing without our big fella (center Malachi Evans, who sat out with an injury),” Washington said.

“Our first game should never be in the Showdown, but we went through so much in football that I didn’t want to rush them onto the court.

“We were rusty and didn’t shoot the ball well at all in the first half, even the good looks. We didn’t play with the same energy in the first half and they got too many easy looks. We showed signs that we can be a good team. We had some young kids step up. By March, we are going to be hard to beat.”

Hamilton will face Franklin Parish in a consolation game at 4 p.m. today at Sam Houston. Dunham advanced to face Madison Prep in a winners bracket game at 7 p.m. at Hamilton.

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