Different season. Same result.
That was pretty much the storyline of the Division 2 girls’ basketball regional semifinal between Hamilton and Edwardsburg on Monday, March 11.
After posting a 17-point win over the Eddies in a regional final a year ago, the Hawkeyes upped that margin of victory to 21 as they prevailed by a 60-39 score in this year’s showdown between the two state-ranked opponents.
“We know what kind of team they are,” Hamilton coach Dan VanHekken said of Edwardsburg. “If you look at their scores this season, they were putting up 60 or 70 points per game, so you know it’s not just one player. They have a lot of players who can hurt you. We just had to come out ready to play and we were.”
Despite the result from last season’s regional contest, Hamilton (24-0) has been ranked behind Edwardsburg (23-1) throughout the season. That included the final poll of the season, which had the Hawkeyes at No. 3, with the Eddies one spot ahead of them.
“Our girls have a lot of pride,” VanHekken said. “They have a lot of goals they want to accomplish and they’re very focused on doing what they need to do.”
No Hamilton player appeared to be more focused than senior guard Bria Schrotenboer.
Not only did Schrotenboer lead the offensive charge for Hamilton, but she also had a pivotal defensive play in the opening quarter.
With a nine-point Hamilton lead having been trimmed to three points, Schrotenboer attempted to pick off an Edwardsburg pass. Unable to do so, she instead swatted the ball off an Edwardsburg player to give possession to the Hawkeyes, who promptly reeled off nine straight points to push their lead to double digits.
“She’s a kid who’s a soccer/basketball combo player and she’s always thinking ahead to the next play,” VanHekken said. “She seems to be one step ahead of everyone else on a lot of plays. Plus she has some feistiness to her and I think that showed on that play.
“Plays like that are huge. Other players feed off our leaders and she’s one of our leaders. When they see her playing with feistiness and heart like that, the other girls follow.”
Hamilton wasted no time in setting the tone for the game, scoring the game’s first nine points. Schrotenboer scored the first four, with A.J. Ediger scoring the next five.
“We wanted to challenge (Edwardsburg) right away, so we decided to throw our full-court press at them to start the game,” VanHekken said. “We knew we wouldn’t keep up that pace the whole game, but they had some trouble with it to start the game and we got some turnovers out of them. It was a gamble, but it paid off for us.”
Edwardsburg responded by scoring the next six points, but the Eddies would get no closer as Hamilton led 14-6 after one quarter, 32-16 at halftime and 45-24 heading to the final stanza.
Ediger joined Schrotenboer in double figures with 16 points, while Riki Ediger added six points and #30 chipped in with five.
“When we come out and execute like we did tonight, we’re a pretty tough team,” VanHekken said. “Edwardsburg is a good team and we played well against them.”