By Grant Lengefeld


During the middle of a busy Hamilton County Stock Show schedule, Hamilton and Hico’s high school basketball teams met in Hico last Friday to resume district competition.

It was the first time this season both the girls’ and boys’ schedules matched up, allowing both the opportunity to compete on the same night in the same venue.

Friday evening too marked the first district game in the New Year for Hamilton. Hamilton’s junior varsity Lady Bulldogs tipped off the evening by securing a win and a district leading 3-0 record.

The JV Bulldogs followed up with a win as well over Hico in their first district contest of the season. Coming off a competitive Clifton Tournament championship over the holidays, the varsity Lady Bulldogs seemed poised to take on the fourth-ranked team in the state. Hamilton entered the contest with a 19-4 overall record and a 3-0 district share of the lead.

The Lady Tigers defeated Ranger on Tuesday of last week 54-29 to remain the only other unbeaten team in District 10-AA with a 4-0 record. Hamilton matched Hico’s physicality and fast-paced tempo in the early minutes.

Trinity Haile knocked down three buckets for the Lady Dogs in the first quarter, and Kali Stroud dropped five of her team leading 11 points in the opening eight minutes to help keep Hamilton within two, 17-15. Hico adjusted their defense, caging the Lady Dogs for just two free throws in the second quarter and two baskets in the third.

Offensively, the fourth-ranked Lady Tigers continued applying pressure by pushing the ball up the court with quick outlet passes that resulted in two-point fast break opportunities. At the end of the third, Hico had amassed a commanding 41-21 lead.

The Lady Tigers transitioned to a stall strategy in the fourth, and the Lady Dogs pounced. Catherine Diaz entered the game and buried two quick three-pointers for six of Hamilton’s 12 fourth quarter points.

Though the Lady Dogs managed to cut the deficit in half, Hico held on for a 43-33 victory. Future East Texas Baptist University star, Marissa Warren, led the Lady Tigers and all scorers with 14 points in the game followed by teammate Shelby Polk with 10.

Polk’s sister, Sydney Polk, finished the game with seven, as did Lauryl Stegall. Shiloh O’Bannon also added to Hico’s offensive output with five points.

Behind senior Kali Stroud’s 11 points, Hamilton received point production from Haile, Diaz, Kirsten Niemann and Maddy Mehaffey. Haile, Diaz and Niemann finished with six points apiece and Mehaffey ended the night with four.

“We turned the ball over 19 times and forced only two while shooting just 37 percent from the field,” said Hamilton head coach Stephen Heers after the game.

“Of course, Hico played a big role in our lack of shooting efficiency. They got after us tonight, and we’ll only get better from playing a team like Hico,” he continued.

Hico moved to 23-1 on the season with Friday’s win over Hamilton, and their only blemish was a close 53-48 loss to Brownwood back in mid-November.

Hico now leads the district with a 5-0 record and is trailed by Hamilton (3-1), De Leon (2-2), Ranger (2-2), Goldthwaite (2-3), Santo (1-3) and Meridian (0-4).

Heers was optimistic about the upcoming district schedule, saying, “Hico did end our 12-game winning streak, but we hope to start a new one on Tuesday.”

The Lady Bulldogs and Bulldog basketball teams were scheduled to resume district competition at home on Tuesday of this week versus Santo. Following the varsity girls’ basketball game last Friday, the varsity Dogs hoped to secure their second district win of the season over Hico.

The Bulldogs opened district play with a 51-49 home victory over Ranger back on December 29. Hico fell to Goldthwaite 47-33 at home in their district opener and bounced back to defeat Ranger on the road on Tuesday of last week by a 43-10 margin.

Hico continued their romp last Friday over Hamilton by jumping out to a first half 24-7 lead before capping the game with a 49-24 victory stamp.

Hico’s Cooper Conlee led the Tiger clawing with 17 points followed by Adrian Jimenez with nine, Dylan McPeek with five, Brandon Luna with five, Luc Hyles with three, Grayson Holt with three, Hunter Koonsman with three and Briley Johnson with two.

Hamilton was led by sophomores Shane Catoe with six points and Grayson Moore with five. Hunter Finley found the basket for a total of four points, and Brenden Tomlinson and Brody Rogers each added three.

DeLeon has an early lead in the District 10-AA standings with a 2-0 record, followed by Goldthwaite (2-1), Hico (2-1), Santo (2-1), Hamilton (1-1), Meridian (0-2) and Ranger (0-3).

After hosting Santo on Tuesday of this week, Hamilton’s basketball teams are scheduled to travel to DeLeon on Friday before returning home to host Meridian on Tuesday of next week. Games will begin on Friday in DeLeon at 4 p.m. with the freshmen boys and junior varsity girls.

Next Tuesday in Hamilton versus Meridian, JV games will tip-off at 5 p.m. followed by the freshmen boys at 6:15, the varsity girls at 6:30 and the varsity boys’ game at 8:30.                               

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