Sussex - On what Hamilton head boys basketball coach Andy Cerroni called "a very emotional night," the visiting Chargers went on an incredible 22-0 run in the second half, storming past the West Allis Hale Huskies, 58-28, in a Greater Metro Conference game.
The win improved Hamilton's overall record to 11-0, including a 5-0 record in the GMC.
Both schools suffered losses to student-athletes over the holiday break. West Allis Hale junior football player Corey Stingley passed away after sustaining brain trauma during an incident still under investigation. Hamilton senior Aaron Zagorski died of a gun shot wound on New Year's Day.
Both schools honored one another for their unfortunate losses.
During the decisive 22-0 breakout, the Chargers got 10 points in a 30-second span from Tony Gumina, wearing No. 11 for the first time in honor of Zagorski (who wore No. 11 with the football team). Others contributing big during the rally were Jake Knueppel and Brett Buehler.
"That was really something," Cerroni said. "We really came alive at that point against a much-improved team. We struggled shooting the ball early, so it was great to see we could regroup in the second half."
Brady Ellingson scored 25 points and had five rebounds. Gumina finished the game with 15 points and eight rebounds. Aaron Konop added 6 points. Mark Gryszkiewicz had eight assists for Hamilton.
"This was a really good win to start off the New Year," Cerroni said. "We've got to keep working hard because it doesn't get any easier."
The Chargers host Milwaukee School of Languages at 7:30 p.m. Friday in a nonconference game after Tuesday's crucial battle against Brookfield Central. On Jan. 18, the Chargers complete the first spin through the GMC with a home game against Marquette.
Chargers find a way
Pesky Milton made the night uncomfortable for the Hamilton girls basketball team on Monday, but the Chargers still found a way to win, 47-38, improving to 12-1 on the season with some huge conference clashes next up.
Though the Chargers forced 19 first-half turnovers, they needed a 9-0 run late in the half to break a 16-16 tie, ultimately taking a 31-23 lead to the locker room. The lead was a tenuous 37-34 in the fourth quarter before the Chargers closed on a 10-2 run.
"We were a little frustrated with our number of turnovers and offensive rebounds that we allowed," said junior Mackenzie Latt, who finished with 24 points. "We wanted to crack down on that in this game, and we didn't do as well as we usually did. It's a credit to them for crashing hard, but it's also what we'll work on."
Milton boasted one of the state's premier seniors in Morgan Blumer, a Florida Gulf Coast recruit who scored 19 points and matched up with Latt most of the night.
"There's always that rivalry when you face a great player," Latt said. "Our coach did a good job with the scouting report, with her tendencies and what to do on defense. When I go against a great player, I just think of it as any other player and try to play my game and do what I'm comfortable with."
Latt drained a 3-pointer, then added six of the next eight points in a run that broke that 16-all tie and spotted the Chargers a 27-16 lead. She scored the last Chargers basket of the first half and first two of the second half to make it 35-25, but the Red Hawks refused to disappear. Blumer hit a 3-pointer that sparked a 7-0 run to make it a one-possession game.
"I love the shots we're getting," Hamilton coach Dan Carey said. "I like how we fought. My biggest frustration was the rebounding; we gave up a lot of offensive rebounds. It wasn't just when we were in zone, man, anything, we were giving up a lot of second shots, and to a team that can score like that, you just can't do that. That's been one of our strengths, rebounding, so that's definitely something we need to clean up."
Jenny Shernell delivered consecutive crucial baskets in the home stretch, and she finished with 8 points. Hamilton forced 30 turnovers for the night.
"Our scouting report was very detailed," Latt said. "We always work on containing our players and getting a hand on everything. It was all about hustle, and our team knows all about hustle."
The team will get its biggest challenge to date with a Friday meeting against Brookfield Central in Greater Metro Conference play, with a battle against Divine Savior Holy Angels to follow one week later. None of the three teams have fallen in league competition.
Girls too much for Hale
Keeping a constant defensive presence despite a growing lead, Hamilton's girls basketball team overwhelmed West Allis Hale in a Greater Metro Conference battle Friday, 56-17.
The Chargers held Hale to 4-of-46 shooting from the field, with 20 turnovers. The Huskies scored 8 points in the second half after notching just nine in the first 16 minutes.
Sarah Thompson, in her first action since returning from injury, hit on 6 of 10 from the field for 12 points, and Tristen Hayes added eight boards. Mackenzie Latt led Hamilton with 17 points.
The team also welcomed back another post player, Taylor Wirsbinski, for her first game action since battling back from a back injury.
"It was 22-9 at half and I felt like we were gambling a little too much" coach Dan Carey said. "We executed our adjustments perfectly, didn't foul as much, made them run offense on us and cleaned up our act."
Hamilton has held four teams beneath 20 points this season and four others under 30.
Now 10-1 overall and 5-0 in league play, Hamilton heads into a monster stretch with fellow GMC unbeatens Brookfield Central and Divine Savior Holy Angels on the docket for both of the next Fridays.
- JR Radcliffe contributed to this article.
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