Hamilton denies Beloit
Then Milwaukee Hamilton took the court in a WIAA Division 1 super sectional Tuesday night at the Al McGuire Center on the Marquette University campus.
The Wildcats, behind three freshmen starters standing 6-4 or better and one talented senior, withstood a late surge by the Purple Knights and a festive purple-dominated crowd to pull out a 54-47 victory over the Big Eight co-champions.
Freshman guard Kevon Looney paced the Wildcat ninth-graders with 20 points, while senior Haki Stampley added 19, to lead Hamilton (20-6) to a state semifinal game against the other Big Eight co-champion, Madison Memorial (20-6), at 6:35 p.m. Friday at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Madison Memorial earned its eighth straight state appearance by beating Milwaukee City Conference champion Riverside, 60-48, in a super sectional at UW-Whitewater.
Hamilton denied Beloit its 27th state appearance, which would have tied the record held by Superior Central. And as the young Wildcats have matured, they’ve taken their school to its second straight state tournament.
“They’ve gone from not being able to finish practice and getting sick and throwing up to playing 36 minutes the other night,” Hamilton coach Tom Diener said of Looney, Jerrelle Savage and David Burrell. “It’s just extraordinary. You can’t even explain how far they’ve come.”
While Diener has the comfort of three more years of success with his young team, barring any more transfers, Beloit coach Jay Bryant watched four senior starters end their careers on a bittersweet note.
“You can’t fault these guys for their effort all year,” said Bryant, who dismissed leading scorer Leketreius Broomfield from the team before tournament play after three code violations. “We’ve been through a lot of adversity and hung together, and 21-5 and conference championship is a hell of a year.”
The Purple Knights did all they could to keep the season going.
After trailing 40-29 at the start of the fourth quarter, Beloit clawed its way to within 44-41 on two Travae Ross free throws with 3:11 to play.
The Wildcats quickly rebuilt the lead to 49-41 before back-to-back Beloit three-pointers from Cameron Roegner and Dennis Crosby made it 51-47 with 32 seconds left.
Crosby led Beloit with 14 points, while Mike Weston and Ross added 11 and 10 respectively.
After getting within four points a final time, the Purple Knights forced a five-second violation and were poised to cut it to a one-possession game. But a clutch Stampley steal on the ensuing inbounds pass put a fork in the comeback bid.
“I think Stampley is probably the best player in the state right now,” Diener said. “You might as well give him Player of the Year in the state.”
While Diener’s comments are up for debate, Stampley certainly helped his team jump out to an early 7-0 lead with a three-pointer. Weston answered with Beloit’s first 11 points to keep the Knights in contention at 15-11 with 4:54 left in the first half.
The Wildcats built the lead to 25-15 by halftime on Stampley’s buzzer-beating jumper from the top of the key.
Hamilton maintained a comfortable lead most of the second half before Beloit made a spirited, but unsuccessful, late push.
HAMILTON 54, BELOIT 47
Memorial (47)—Weston, 4-3-11; Winston, 1-0-2; Roegner, 2-2-7; Crosby, 5-0-14; Shamsid-Deen, 1-0-3; Ross, 4-2-10. Totals; 17-7-47.
Hamilton (53)—Savage, 1-0-2; Looney, 7-5-20; Burrell, 3-4-11; Belcher, 1-0-2; Stampley, 5-8-19; Goode, 0-1-1. Totals: 17-18-53.
Beloit Memorial 7 8 14 18—47
Milwaukee Hamilton 11 15 14 14—54
Three-point goals—Beloit 6 (Crosby 4, Shamsid-Deen, Roegner), Hamilton 2 (Looney, Stampley). Free throws missed—Beloit 4, Hamilton 9. Total fouls—Beloit 20, Hamilton 13. Fouled out—Weston, Winston, Belcher.