Up 48-40 heading into the fourth quarter, it seemed as if the Tipton Blue Devils (9-8) seemed to have the Class 3A #1 Hamilton Heights Huskies (15-1) right where they could have wanted them. And that’s when the Huskies showed why they are worthy of that number-one ranking.
“Energy, effort, and ball pressure,” said Hamilton Heights Head Coach Tod Windlan. “That is what we are built on, and that is how we play. For three quarters, we didn’t have that. They gave us trouble, we played soft at times for us, and once we got our energy and effort going, we sustained a nice drive there for the last six minutes of the game.”
The Huskies battled back, ultimately taking the lead at 57-54 with 2:35 left thanks to a three-pointer from Junior guard Kiley Walters that would seal the deal on the game. Walters finished the night with 20-points, with multiple three-pointers coming in the first half to keep Hamilton Heights in striking distance down 37-31.
Tipton Junior Kacie Juday, who finished with 17 points, drove the lane for a layup to put Tipton up eight heading into the fourth. Huskies Junior Haley Cook, 15 points, tied the game at 50-50 a piece on a fast break started by Walters, and the two teams traded baskets until Walters officially separated the teams with a three and free throws to follow.
The last time Hamilton Heights had played in a game that was settled by single-digits was on November 21st in a 70-61 victory over Mount Vernon, and with the tournament quickly approaching, Windlan was happy to see his girls respond in a game where they faced adversity.
“These kids have a unique ability to learn how to win,” said Windlan. “Anytime you pull out a win, and come out and defeat your arch-rivals on their home court, we knew it would be a tough contest. We were just happy to get out of here with the ‘W’.”