Defense keeps oppressive pace in win over Falls
In a variety of early season polls, the Sussex Hamilton girls basketball team stands second in the rankings. One poll says the Chargers are second in the area, while another places them as the second best Division 1 team in the state.
After yet another dominating victory Tuesday night, no matter what the geographic parameters are, one would be hard pressed to find a better team anywhere.
The Chargers toppled visiting Menomonee Falls, 50-26, moving to 8-0 overall and 4-0 in Greater Metro play. The win also keeps the defending conference champion Chargers in sole possession of first place while the Indians dropped to 3-5 in what has amounted to be a brutally difficult early season schedule.
On a night Mackenzie Latt was honored for becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer, the junior guard continued on her torrid path for Hamilton, leading all scorers with 19 points. The record was formerly held by Christa (Goetz) Botsford at 821 points until Latt surpassed the mark just seven games into her junior season.
“Congratulations to Mackenzie on this great accomplishment,” Botsford said. “I expect her do a lot more damage in the next year and a half.”
Despite all of the offensive talk before the game, on the court it was the stifling Hamilton defense on display against a potent Falls attack. Coming into the game, the Chargers had given up just 25.4 points per game, besting that mark in conference play with a mere 15.9 points allowed in three games. Latt was eager to address the way Hamilton prepares for games defensively.
“We focus on containing our player and contesting every shot,” Latt said. “Our coach does a great job of preparing us with the scouting report. We know the tendencies of the other players so we just have to keep them in front of us and play smart.”
The Indians scored 81 points in a loss to Germantown last week and had topped 40 points scored in every game prior to matching up with Hamilton. Falls leading scorer, senior forward Erin Crownover, managed just 10 points on the night despite posting 16 points per game on average. Just as Crownover struggled to find her scoring touch, Latt was having issues of her own.
Defended by a 2-3 zone, anchored by Crownover in the middle, Hamilton had difficulty getting the ball to Latt on a consistent basis in the first half. Latt wasn’t able to score until over seven minutes into the game and managed just two made field goals for five points in the first half. The Chargers used two separate 7-0 runs to build a 10-point lead in the second quarter but led by just six at the break, 16-10.
“It took a little bit to get going tonight; we had prepared for their 2-3 but I had a tough night personally,” Latt said. “My teammates stepped up and made some big shots. Hannah (Menzia) had a great game handling the ball and we had to muscle this win out so it was a good win for the team even if our shots weren’t always falling.”
A more assertive Latt came out and scored immediately in the third frame to spark a 9-point quarter individually and push the Hamilton lead to 17 points. Once again, Menomonee Falls refused to go away entirely, with Crownover converting a 3-point play to make the score 33-19 after three quarters.
The Indians then opened the final period with seven straight points, cutting the Chargers lead down to under 10 points until freshman guard Taylor Klug knocked down 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions.
Falls has now played all three of the undefeated teams at the top of the Greater Metro conference – Hamilton, Brookfield Central and DSHA – and dropped all three despite playing well.
“We turned the ball over too much tonight,” Falls coach Craig Amundson said. “It was a single digit lead in the fourth quarter but they just wore us down and are a very good team. What we always do is look at each game individually to see what we did well and see what we can improve on moving forward.”
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