For the last two weeks, Chandler Hamilton has made plenty of strides under new coach Jeff Kain. The Huskies now have a plaque and more wins than all of last year to show for it, heading into the most important part of the girls basketball schedule.
“It’s been tough on us, but it’s only going to prepare us for region,” Hamilton guard Brianna Brown said of the seven games in two Nike tournaments over the last two weeks.
Brown was all over the Coy Payne Gymnasium floor Saturday night, scoring 19 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in Hamilton’s 55-25 win in the Silver Division championship over Phoenix Shadow Mountain in the Nike Tournament of Champions II at Chandler High School.
“Very good — it’s definitely something for us to build on going into region,” echoed Kain. “As everyone has said, it’s the toughest region in the state. So this definitely gives us a lot of momentum.”
Hamilton lost in the Gold Division final to rising power Cajon of San Bernardino, Calif., on Dec. 22 but beat Vail Cienega and Bishop Alemany of Mission Hills, Calif., this week to reach the Silver Division final, giving the team a 6-1 record over the two weeks.
“For us to come out of the two Nikes with a runner-up and a championship is incredible for the team,” Kain said.
Brown outscored Shadow Mountain 11-9 in the first quarter as the Huskies (13-1) slowly picked up steam, scoring the last seven points of the half to take a 24-9 lead at the break.
“Bri is incredible,” Kain said. “She’s probably one of the most underrated talents in the state. Not very many colleges are looking at her, which is a shame because she is very talented. She does control things for us and makes everyone better.”
The 5-foot-9 senior was a little more modest, giving credit to the team.
“We have come so much further,” Brown said. “Our team bonding has just been amazing.”
Hamilton continued to try to get the ball to its 6-foot posts, Pua Resor and Magen Hudson, and the Matadors (8-5) did not have an answer as the Huskies went on a 19-0 run in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Hamilton held Shadow Mountain to one field goal in the first half and one in the fourth quarter.
“The difference was our patience,” Brown said. “That fact that we came out stronger and we played together.”