- Rick Cassano Staff Writer
A season-best defensive performance was exactly what Badin High School’s girls basketball team needed Monday night.
The Rams won for the 12th time in their last 14 games by defending Hamilton into 16.7-percent shooting and 20 turnovers in a 44-24 victory at the Hamilton Athletic Center.
“We were on our toes all night,” Badin coach Tom Sunderman said. “We’re a good scoring team, but not great, so we rely on our defense. And when you hold a team to 24 points, you’re going to win a lot of games.”
GIRLS BASKETBALL COVERAGE
Big Blue didn’t score in double digits in any quarter and made 7 of 42 field goals, 2 of 20 in the first half.
Junior forward Emma Broermann’s 19 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots paced the Rams (16-5).
Broermann said the players had some extra juice after Sunday’s tournament draw, which saw Badin get the No. 3 seed in the Division II Lebanon sectional. Greater Catholic League Coed Division rival Alter then chose to play the Rams in the first round.
“Our coaches told us that some other teams had thought less of us, so we thought, ‘We’re going to come out and show ’em what we really have,’ ” Broermann said. “We’re going to make a big run in the tournament.”
HHS (9-11) is also hoping to make a run, though Big Blue coach Harry Phillips said his squad needs a jolt of offensive confidence for that to happen.
Phillips’ five starters were a combined 6 of 38 from the floor Monday. CiCi Riggins — the Greater Miami Conference’s leading scorer — was held to 13 points, and Hamilton was 0 of 14 from beyond the arc.
“We’ve hit this bad place where we just can’t get over the hump offensively,” Phillips said. “We need to get more centralized in how we attack. I’ve said this all along: We just have to become more fundamentally conscious.
“We hit hard shots early in the season, and now when teams are taking away our scorer, it puts a lot of pressure on the others to try to foot the bill. They’re finding it very difficult to do right now.”
Grace Larkin did most of the defensive work against Riggins, who tallied 7 points at the foul line.
Big Blue never led and didn’t have a field goal in the second quarter, yet only trailed 14-9 at the break. Badin, which committed 24 turnovers, didn’t blow the game open until early in the fourth period.
“I don’t mind the turnovers if we’re being aggressive,” Sunderman said. “We talked a little at halftime about the Super Bowl last night and how Philadelphia won because they were the aggressor the whole game.
“I thought we did a better job in the second half of just attacking them. What’s the difference if we turn it over attacking them vs. playing passive? At least we’re being aggressive and getting to the rim.”
Claire McCurley had 6 points and nine rebounds for the Rams, who shot 48.8 percent from the field. Macy Harper came up with four steals.
“We’ve really been pushing it,” Broermann said. “Defense is our strong side of the game, and once we start getting steals and turnovers, then we score and get on a roll.”
Badin will close the regular season at home against Roger Bacon on Wednesday. The Rams could get a share of the GCLC Central title with a win over Bacon and a Purcell Marian loss to McNicholas.
And then it’s on to the tournament. If the seeds are correct, Badin will have to beat Alter, Franklin and Monroe to advance to the district.
“We didn’t get the greatest draw in the world, but you know what? We’ll be fine,” Sunderman said. “We’re 16-5. We know how to win close games. We’ve done this all year without one of our top scorers, so we stepped it up on the defensive end and got some other girls to knock down some shots.”
The Rams beat Hamilton 53-42 last season, and Monday’s game marked the end of a two-year contract and the series. Sunderman said he’s disappointed to lose a local opponent.
“Let’s face facts — girls basketball doesn’t draw big crowds,” he said. “When you get a Badin-Ross, a Badin-Hamilton, a Hamilton-Fairfield, those are good neighborhood rivalries. The kids know each other, the parents know each other. Go out and battle for 32 minutes, and when it’s all said and done, shake hands and move on in life.”
Phillips said he was the one who decided to get Badin off the HHS schedule.
“That was my call because you’ve got too much stuff going on in the interior that I care not to even discuss. It’s not worth it,” said Phillips, noting that Ross and Harrison are also getting dropped. “It’s like a Hamilton thing, and I’m not on that. I never did like it when I was with Coach (Jesse) Weisbrod, and I don’t like it now. It’s just a game that I don’t really want to play. I would prefer to go outside and play other teams.”
Two GMC games remain for Big Blue. They will visit Sycamore on Wednesday and host Lakota East on Saturday. Hamilton is the No. 17 seed in the Division I Cincinnati sectional and will open against No. 7 West Clermont.
Phillips is hoping to have junior guard Miracle Riggins available soon. She’s missed the last two games with an ankle injury.
“I’ve got enough time to get this thing turned around,” Phillips said. “We can get it corrected. I have faith in my kids.”
BADIN (16-5): Emily Maher 1 0 2, Grace Larkin 2 0 4, Macy Harper 2 0 4, Emma Broermann 8 3 19, Claire McCurley 3 0 6, Claire MacGowan 1 0 3, Anna Cantwell 2 0 4, Mickayla Kowalski 1 0 2. Totals: 20-3-44
HAMILTON (9-11): Anna Cardwell 0 3 3, CiCi Riggins 3 7 13, Makayla Rogers 1 0 2, Kira Ash 1 0 2, Jade Wells 1 0 2, Andrea Green 1 0 2. Totals: 7-10-24
3-pointers: B 1 (MacGowan)