Hamilton freshman A.J. Ediger handles the ball against defensive pressure from Hopkins’ Kennedy Helderop. Ediger scored a game-best 28 points in the winning effort. Hamilton’s Sarah Buresh (41) and Hopkins’ Mikayla Bulich (15) look on. (Photo by Benjamin VanHuis).

Ediger scores 28 in Hamilton’s win over Hopkins

Leo Martonosi

It’s been said you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
The Hamilton girls’ basketball team didn’t need a second chance in its non-league contest with Allegan County rival Hopkins on Tuesday, Dec. 19.
The Hawkeyes opened the game on an 11-0 run that spurred them to a 58-42 victory over the visiting Vikings.
Despite the outcome, Hamilton coach Dan VanHekken had praise for his team’s opponents.
“They are a good team that kept battling,” VanHekken of the Vikings.
Fourth-year Hopkins coach John Robinson wasn’t surprised with his team’s effort despite being down by 11 points before they got in the scorebook.
“These kids are great kids, just like the community they live in,” Robinson said. “There’s no quit in them.”
The Hawkeyes, who were coming off a one-sided revenge victory on Dec. 8 versus Grand Rapids Catholic to avenge a loss in the regional finals a season ago, turned their 6-foot-2 freshman phenom AJ Ediger loose.
Ediger scored a game-best 28 points to give those in attendance something to talk about. One of those people was Central Michigan University coach Sue Guevara, who was seen talking to VanHekken at the conclusion of the game.
Robinson was definitely impressed with what he saw from Ediger.
“She’s a load,” Robinson said. “The real scary part is she’s only a freshman and will only continue to develop and get even better.”
After falling behind by the early 11-0 score, the Vikings battled the Hawkeyes close throughout the remainder of the first half. Hopkins trailed 18-12 at the end of the first period and was down only  31-27 at the halftime break.
“We made some adjustments and just got more solid all-around play in the second half,” VanHekken said.
Those adjustments helped Hamilton outscore Hopkins 27-15 over the final 16 minutes to pull away.
Ashlen Wolfram, a hard-nosed senior, followed Ediger in scoring with nine points. Sophomore Sally Merrill added seven points.
Kennedy Helderop, one of three Helderops on the Vikings’ varsity, sank a team-high 16 points for Hopkins.
Samantha Sebright, a sophomore and the leading scorer on the junior varsity a year ago. dropped in two triples and a free throw in the second stanza for all seven of her points for the Vikings. Finishing with six points for the visitors was Mikayla Bulich.
Contact Leo Martonosi at leomartonosi@gmail.com.


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