The Hamilton girls basketball team secured their third win of the season after they defeated the Kennedy Cougars 72-32.
Hamilton senior forward Sydney Blevins led the Yankees with 24 points, junior center Chioma Okenwa scored 17 points, and sophomore guard Lindsey Black-Ross made 12 points.
The Yankees pushed the pace on offense and double-teamed the Cougars on defense. Although they worked to drive into the paint and move the ball, the Cougars struggled to find their shot in the first half.
Forcing turnovers and grabbing defensive rebounds was also an asset for the Yankees. Blevins mentioned how Hamilton girls’ basketball head coach Sherland Chensam is a defensive-minded coach.
“The more we can take away from them and get for us, the better,” Blevins said. “Whenever they have it, we want it to be our ball so we get after it.”
However, Kennedy returned to the hardwood with a new energy in the second half. Their defense became stronger and they sank a variety of shots, scoring 17 points in the third quarter alone.
“They started pressing and we had to stop the press,” Black-Ross said.
In order to thwart their run, the Yankees switched their defensive scheme.
“Our bigs really got our rebounds so we can run out and get our easy layups,” Blevins said.
The Yankees are coming off a competitive 57-47 win against the Westchester Lady Comets that took place a day before the Kennedy game. Black-Ross noted that having impactful practices helped the team secure the win.
“The Westchester game, we worked on defense, our defense was very good,” she said. “We’re moving the ball well.”
Blevins scored 23 points in the match-up while Hamilton senior guard Sherisse Chensam scored 11 points and Trinity Conner scored eight points.
For Blevins, the matchup against Westchester taught her the importance of maintaining poised and competing with physicality.
“They were definitely physical and we had to be physical back and take every hit,” Blevins said. “When they get in our faces, we back up and don’t engage in that stuff.”
Hamilton has eight in-season games due to COVID-19 protocols; their mindset is to win every game this season. The Yankees traditionally practice all year round which promotes bonding among the teammates but were unable to do so last year. During the quarantine, Black-Ross worked on her speed. The work that she put in prepared her for the amount of playing time she gets.
“I’m not a ball handler yet,” she said. “I need to control my legs, how fast I’m moving to how hard I pound the ball.”
Blevins began running a mile daily in the quarantine, she is happy to be able to compete with her team one last time before graduating and attending the University of Arizona. Her advice to her younger teammates is that they are playing for something bigger than themselves and not to take what they have for granted.
“We missed out on the chemistry building in the summer and I definitely took that for granted when it was taken away from me last year,” Blevins said. “We’re a family here, we’re bringing them into our family.”