Brett Buehler made a play that could have been remembered for years to come based on the trajectory of the Hamilton basketball season.
Instead, it became a footnote in an evenly-matched, but nonetheless disappointing 51-48 loss to Wisconsin Lutheran on Jan. 23, an overtime setback that represented Hamilton's first loss of the year.
After Brady Ellingson was fouled attempting a 3-pointer with 19.1 seconds to go in the extra session, the junior scoring leader made two of three to pull his team within 49-48. On the ensuing inbound, Buehler flew in to pick off the pass and called timeout, setting up one last gasp for the Chargers.
But Hamilton fumbled the ball out of bounds with 4 seconds to go, and Wisconsin Lutheran (12-3) held on.
"We battled until the end," Hamilton coach Andy Cerroni said. "We battled and had guys who made plays. We just didn't have enough other guys score and get to the rim."
Deiondre Cunningham made two free throws, part of an incredible 15-of-17 performance from the charity stripe. The Chargers attempted a full-court play designed to engineer a shot, but the Vikings broke up a pass and prevented that from happening.
"It's a good test for us," Cerroni said. "Unfortunately, you like to win them all, but there's a lot to be said for finding out what kind of character our team has, and we'll find out. I have faith in these kids that they'll come back. It's not like we laid an egg, we're just on the road and didn't bring that extra energy. You've got to have that edge on the road when you don't necessarily have that fan following and that type of thing. We'll bounce back."
Hamilton fell to 14-1.
The overtime featured plenty of back-and-forth scoring after the teams knotted at 41 through regulation, but the fourth quarter produced a long stretch without a basket. Tony Gumina's basket with 4:12 to go wound up being the final points of regulation, and Wisco didn't have a field goal for the final 7:49 of the quarter.
The Chargers held for a final shot, with Ellingson's driving layup rimming off, and a rebound follow also off the mark to necessitate overtime.
Hamilton committed 20 turnovers, but only eight of those came in the final two quarters and four-minute OT.
Milestone for Ellingson
Ellingson still finished with 24 points and in the process surpassed the 1,000 point total in his career. He left the game with 1,003 and now has 1,041 after a 38-point performance against West Allis Central on Friday.
He's now third all-time in school history, surpassing Terry Youngbauer (1,004). Kameron Cerroni (1,376) and Brett Meinecke (1,153) hold the top two spots on the list.
"Brady certainly has earned everything he has gotten up to this point," Andy Cerroni said. "He is an incredible basketball player who continues to improve. He is someone who makes players around him better. He has an outstanding basketball IQ and with his IQ and talent, he is tough to stop.
"We have many great players that have played in the Hamilton program: Terry Youngbauer, Dave Thorpe, the Keller brothers, and in my stint here, Steve Hicklin, Matt Miller, Kameron Cerroni … Brady is carving out a spot as one of the great ones that have played at Hamilton."
The 38 points against Central was a career high, eclipsing the 33 he recorded in last year's regional win over Arrowhead.
After losing for the first time this season on Jan. 23 at Wisconsin Lutheran, the Hamilton boys basketball team jumped back into the Greater Metro Conference, defeating host West Allis Central, 66-55.
After playing nearly even in the first quarter (11-10 in favor of Hamilton), the Chargers put up 26 points in the second quarter for a 37-22 halftime lead.
"We got going in the second quarter but didn't sustain it like I thought we should of in the third quarter," Hamilton head boys basketball coach Andy Cerroni said. "We didn't take care of the ball at times. We just didn't execute like we needed to."
For the game, Hamilton (15-1 overall, 8-0 in the GMC) was outstanding at the foul line, connecting on 20 of 24 free throws (83.3 percent).
Ellingson made 12 of 21 field goals, including 5 of 9 3-pointers. He ended up with 38 points in the contest in nearly 31 minutes of action.
Tony Gumina had 18 points and eight rebounds for Hamilton.
Mark Gryszkiewicz, Jake Knueppel and Dominique Hoskins were the other Hamilton players to score against the Bulldogs.
West Allis Central was led by Jequan Carson, who scored 15 points.
"It's never an easy place to play," Cerroni said. "We'll take the win and begin preparing for a real tough stretch of the season."
Girls overcoming injuries
Compelled to soldier on without one of its senior starters - and still not fully healthy on other fronts - the Hamilton girls basketball team didn't miss a beat in winning twice last week, improving to 15-1 on the year and 8-0 in the Greater Metro Conference.
The bigger test came Jan. 22, when the Chargers rallied from a first-half deficit to top a talented Muskego team in nonconference action, 48-37. Back in conference play, the Chargers shut down West Allis Central on Friday, 57-12.
Though the team will be without injured post player Jenny Shernell, who tore her ACL earlier in the month, fellow senior Tristen Hayes has stepped into the starter's role admirably. Coach Dan Carey also said another senior post, Sarah Thompson, has been critical in filling the void.
"We're not asking them to do any more than they're capable of doing," Carey said. "It's a testament to their work ethic (that they've stepped right in). This goes back to even last year, they just kept working, and that's a lot of time on the court to get better. It's a great lesson to players that aren't getting a lot of minutes that your time can come."
Muskego entered the week with just a 7-9 record, but many of its losses have come against top-shelf competition.
"The Classic 8 is really tough and they really tested themselves in nonconference," Carey said. "We did not come out as ready to go as we should have. They just needed to start playing harder and with more urgency, and once we did that, we got a lot of defensive stops in the third quarter. We got some turnovers and missed shots, and the offense started coming from there."
The Warriors led at the break, 21-17, but Hamilton took a 30-27 lead after the third quarter and pulled away in the final stanza. Hannah Menzia dished out nine assists, her highest total of the year, and knocked down key free throws to preserve the lead.
"I really think her game has elevated since Jenny went down," Carey said of his junior guard. "She's had a nice stretch of consistent performances. Right away after the game, she wonders how many turnovers she had, so she's aware of that statistic and how meaningful it is, and those numbers have been in a good place."
Mackenzie Latt finished with 23 points and six rebounds.
Against a struggling Central, Hamilton allowed just five points in the first half and none in the third quarter. Latt posted 17 points, and Hayes finished with a team-best six boards.
"We always know what we're going to get from 'T,' because she works hard on the glass both offensively and defensively," Carey said. "She's one of our more vocal players, too, which is really encouraging."
The Chargers played without starting freshman guard Taylor Klug, who missed the game with illness. Carey has also been working Emily Kneer back into the flow of the game, and Katie Baker will soon return from a concussion.
"It will be a nice added boost and jolt of energy to our team," Carey said.
Lau wins title
Hunter Lau walked away with a flight championship when Hamilton wrestling competed in the Pewaukee Pirate Invite on Saturday, scoring 105 points and finishing seventh among eight teams.
Pewaukee (198.5) won its own event.
Competing at 126 pounds, Lau (13-3) won both his matches by decision.
"Hunter has not been healthy for the last two years," Hamilton coach Doug Pulvermacher said. "He has always been extremely talented, winning over 50 varsity matches in his freshmen and sophomore seasons. He is just starting to get into a groove. His tournament title is no surprise to anyone who is familiar with him. I look for him to make a strong push for a conference title and a state berth. Hunter's three losses come from two guys that are rated very high, one guy twice."
Nick Knoebel (second place, 152) fell to Connor Price of Muskego (32-5) in the final and came away with a 27-3 overall record. Vince Pascale (third, 106) won three matches and came away with an 18-13 record.
Brett Neverman took fourth, and fifth-place finishes came from Emilio Guerra, Ryan Hernandez, Ethan Beaudry and Brad Biswell.
The JV team competed in the Greater Metro/Classic 8 Conference meet Saturday and picked up strong showings from Cody Buer (second, 132), Ben Sciortino (third, 160) and Trevor Wittman (fifth, 113).
The Chargers took down Brookfield Central in a dual meet Jan. 24, 45-25. Wins came from Ethan Beadry, Troy Gardipee, Pascale, Chris Lutzen, Neverman, Lau, Ryan Hernandez, Knoebel and Mike Liebham.
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