MAYO — Hamilton County coach Eugene Jones has high expectations for his Trojans. Despite a losing record heading into the final third of the regular season and some formidable opponents at the top of the district, he wants HCHS to finish on a high note and get back in state playoffs.
A win Tuesday at Lafayette was a step in the right direction.
DeNandre Johnson paced the Trojans with 20 points in a 63-50 victory. Johnson made four shots from beyond the arc and helped Hamilton County stay in control the entire way. HCHS led for all but 20 seconds of the contest.
“At full strength, we’re deep,” Jones said of his squad. “We have a lot of people who can put points on the board. I’m grateful to get a win and proud that we came together as a family unit.
“Offensively, I like how we’re playing. If we tighten up on the defensive end of the floor, I don’t see any reason we can’t have a long run in the playoffs.”
The winless Hornets made a few runs, tying the game at two different times in the second quarter. Kobe O’Steen (19 points) led the way during that stretch with some tough baskets in the paint.
But Hamilton County concluded the half with a 3-pointer from Johnson and a 3-pointer from Jhebari Martin to lead 34-25 at the break.
“We’re up and down, but we’ve improved since the beginning of the season,” said LHS coach Jimmy Blankenship. “We’ve got to get that win. That will do a lot for us if we can get one in the next couple of games.”
HCHS point guard Lataevion Green shot 6 of 11 from the field and finished with 14 points, scoring in double figures for the fourth time this season. Tyler Whetstone, Tmoriyon Paul and Jacariyon Houston provided a spark off the bench with a combined 18 points.
Hamilton County (6-9, 5-4) currently sits third in District 5-1A behind Madison County and Jefferson County. Both the Cowboys and the Tigers only have one loss in district play.
Hamilton County outscored LHS 10-2 in the final three minutes of the first half.
It was the first game of the season for both Whetstone and Houston. Both played key roles off the bench. Whetstone contributed a 3-pointer and seven points while Houston controlled the paint with five points and five rebounds.
“DeNandre hit some big shots down the stretch. That’s why he’s a captain. We expect a lot from him.”
— HCHS coach Eugene Jones