HOPE — The way Brad Hamilton sees it, his Hauser girls basketball team is battle tested heading into next week’s Jac-Cen-Del Sectional.
The Jets withstood another battle with a bigger school Tuesday night to close the regular season with their third consecutive win. They built a big lead and held on for a 64-53 victory against Shelbyville.
“I love the composure that my kids are demonstrating right now,” Hamilton said. “I’m really hopeful that we’re peaking at the right time.”
Hauser (13-8) was clinging to a 30-28 lead early in the second half when it went on a 19-3 run to take its biggest lead at 49-31 with 5:52 left in the game. At that point, the Golden Bears (12-10) began pressing and sending the Jets to the free-throw line.
Shelbyville got back to within 57-50 with 1:17 remaining. After Hauser’s Leslie Sims made a free throw, Shelbyville missed a contested 3-pointer, and its coach, Jason West was assessed a technical protesting the call, and Sims made both technical free throws to ice it with 1:00 left.
“We knew they weren’t going to go away,” Hamilton said. “It’s a 4A school, they’ve had a really successful season, they have athletic players and I knew it was going to be a battle at some point.
“I thought we played phenomenal basketball, and the best part about it is, when they made that run at us, it made it interesting,” he said. “When you go through that three or four times, and you work through it, it prepares you because you know when you get to sectional, every game could be like that, and I really like my team’s chances right now.”
Sims’ younger sister, Tessa, came through with a career-high 20 points to lead the Jets.
“My sister gave me a lot of assists for it to happen,” Tessa Sims said. “We just communicated to make it happen. We executed a lot of the plays that went over in practice.”
Tessa Sims also grabbed nine rebounds to lead Hauser to a 29-27 advantage on the boards.
“She’s had breakout game after breakout game lately,” Hamilton said. “She’s a monster on the rebounds, too. I just think it was a phenomenal effort by her.”
Paige Miller added 11 points and six rebounds for the Jets. Abbey Ashbrook and Sarah Tedder each scored 10 points, and Leslie Sims had nine points and seven assists.
Hauser opens sectional play Tuesday against Waldron at Jac-Cen-Del. If the Jets win, they would play the Class 4A No. 1 and host Eagles on Feb. 5.
“If it wasn’t for working hard in practice every day and having the mindset to beat Jac-Cen-Del in sectional, I don’t think we would have been the team we were tonight,” Tessa Sims said. “I think this is the best Hauser has been in basketball in the last 10 years.”