Basha's girls basketball program isn't used to big wins. It's something they want to get used to.
One of those materialized Friday night as Basha's Jacey Kitamura capped a 13-point night by sinking four free throws in the final minute to preserve a hard-fought 47-44 win over Hamilton in a Division I game at Basha.
“This was a big one for us,” Basha coach Rich Meseroll said. “We've got more of these coming up. When you win a close one like this you know when one like it happens again you can do it.”
A sluggish game, at least by the way the teams shot in the first half, developed into a nail-biter after intermission. Both teams shot less than 30 percent from the field the first half — Basha 18 percent. The averages caught up in the third period as threes began falling on both sides. Kitamura, who averages about seven points a game, scored all her points in the second half. She made three baskets — all threes and all from the left baseline corner.
Hamilton took a 33-32 lead to the fouth quarter and protected that behind the continued hot-shooting of Shelby Hartman (team-high 15 points). Hartman scored four points late in the second quarter for her only points of the first half. She stepped up her game dropping in 11 more in the second half. Hamilton led 39-36 with just less than five minutes left when Basha junior forward Rachel Price keyed a 7-0 run that put Basha ahead to stay, 43-39.
Price made a short jumper, tipped away a Hamilton pass at the other end on Hamilton's next possession and got the ball to Christine Orr (11 points) for the go-ahead bucket (40-39). Price went to the basket on Basha's next possession, converting a layup and drawing a foul. She completed the three-point play with 4:16 to play.
Basha was able to stay in the game in the first half behind senior Hayley Pryor's 10 points — all in the paint. Pryo, finished with 12 points, but was plagued by foul trouble in the second half. She picked up her fourth foul in the final seconds of the third period and sat until Meseroll brought her back with 4:16 to go. Seventeen seconds later, the team's vocal leader fouled out.
“In years past if something like that happened we'd have fallen apart,” Meseroll said. “Hayley moved here from Montana as a sophomore and ever since she's held the players accountable.”
Basha (14-4 overall , 8-2 power-ranking games) traded Kitamura's four free throws (two with 54 seconds left and two with 31 seconds remaining) for two baskets by Hamilton sophomore Makayla Filiere (a two and a three) making it 47-44 with 31 seconds to go. Hamilton (12-6, 7-4 prg) had a couple chances to cut the lead in the final 31 seconds. Hartman missed a shot inside, but Hamilton was able to retain possession with 5.7 seconds left.
“We thought they'd pay attention more to Shelby and Makayla so we tried getting the ball to Ashlee (Moore),” Hamilton coach Jeff Kain said. “She's a good shooter from the corner. She got a good look. I thought when it left her hand it was going in.” Moore's shot, however, was just off the mark and Basha corraled the rebound as time expired.
Hamilton now has losses to several top Division I teams, including Desert Vista, Mesquite, Dobson and Basha. The Lady Huskies play host to Highland on Tuesday (Jan. 21). Basha has eight power-rankiing games left, including Mesquite (Tuesday), Desert Vista and Highland.