The Sussex Hamilton boys basketball team may not have eye popping individual offensive statistics, with the exception of the brilliant senior forward Brady Ellingson.
But what HHS coach Andy Cerroni does have is a number of players who will put in special efforts, especially on the defensive end.
The Chargers used that kind of tenacity to throw a very serious scare into top-ranked Brookfield Central on Friday and then used it again Monday night to great effect in throttling arch-rival Menomonee Falls, 56-27, on the Indians' home court.
It was the lowest point total allowed by Hamilton and Falls' lowest offensive output this season.
"We've been this way all season long," Cerroni said of the Chargers' tenacious half-court man-to-man defense. "With the kids we've got, that's the way we have to play. We have the defense and on offense we have guys who can take care of the ball."
For Indians coach Ben Farley, it was the latest in a string of rough offensive efforts, some of which the Indians have been able to overcome and earn wins, and others like Monday's debacle.
"We're just having a hard time scoring the basketball lately," Farley said. "We were down 10 or 11 at the half (26-15) and one of the refs said it best 'You hit your layups and you may be tied.'
"We just have to get back to the idea that 'the simple wins.'"
In short, do the basics, like the Chargers did in improving to 5-3 in Greater Metro Conference and 9-6 overall, while the Indians fell to 5-3 and 9-7, respectively.
Hamilton broke out to a 4-0 lead and never trailed in the contest. In fact, the game was only at one possession three times, 4-2, and 9-6 in the first quarter and 15-12 in the second period.
After that last time, Ellingson hit a free-throw line jumper and sophomore guard Jacob Hartung hit the second of two 3-pointers he connected on in the quarter.
After Falls' Jason Precia notched a hoop at the 1:45 mark to make it 20-14, the Chargers, in effect, put the game away in the next 40 seconds as Ellingson, he of the pure, effortless stroke, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to boost the margin to 26-14.
Farley said he wanted to emphasize the importance of the first four minutes of the third quarter, instead it was the Chargers who got the message, as Ellingson hit a baseline jumper and a 3-pointer from the key to to make it 31-15 less than two minutes in.
Jerry Murphy then knocked down a shot for Falls at the 5:36 point of the third. Those would be the only points of the session for the Indians as Hamilton scored the final 12 points of the quarter to put the game away at 43-17.
"We really wanted to limit their second shot opportunities and we didn't want to put them at the line (only four of 11 for Falls for the game)," Cerroni said. "We succeeded on both ends. We got a steal and a bucket right away and then that three (both from Ellingson)."
After that, the most interesting thing about the game were the taunts and the counter-taunts of the respective student sections, each trying to more ironic than the other.
"That's what rivalries are all about," Cerroni said. "Though we tried not to get too caught up in all that."
Hamilton finished with eight 3-pointers on the night with five different players hitting at least one each, while Falls only got one long-range hit, that from Eric Clough in the final minute.
"We just couldn't score," Farley said. "They're just too solid defensively. We did a few things all right in the first half, but then we started to have problems and then they started to hit a few shots."
Murphy had six points and Anthony Russo five in the meager Falls offensive effort. Meanwhile, Hamilton was led by Ellingson with 19, while Jacob Rink and Hartung had six each.
The game was a makeup of Jan. 28's cold day postponement.
"It was a Monday night, we could have been a little off, but it was a Falls-Hamilton game and we had to do what we had to do," Cerroni said. "I tell you, I didn't sleep well last night. Ben (Farley) is doing a great job out there for Falls and has got them working hard.
"I was expecting a tremendous match. We just played well tonight."
Falls took on Marquette on Tuesday and then hosts West Allis Central at 7:30 p.m. Saturday while Hamilton visited Tosa East on Tuesday and then hosts Marquette at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
"The way we view it, this was the most important game of the season and then the next game is," Cerroni said. "All we're doing is looking one game ahead. I like our approach right now. We have a lot of seniors (an all-senior starting lineup) and they're very business-like."
"We can't feel sorry for ourselves," Farley said. "There will be a game soon where we will go off (offensively). We're due."
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