CALEDONIA – The Hamilton Lady Lions trailed by 17 points at the half against host Caledonia but found back in the third and fourth quarters to make it a game before eventually taking a 39-32 loss in their season opener.

“The team I saw in the second half, I am proud of. We have had a couple of injuries since practice and a couple out with band, and we’re already a team that’s limited with players,” Hamilton coach Sue Verner said. “If I get the team I saw the second half, I think we will be okay this season. I talked to them at the half and told them they had to step it up because this is all you have this year. I told them you’re going to have to play four quarters this year because we don’t have the luxury of a deep bench.”

The Lady Lions were limited to just 10 points in the first half and trailed 27-10 going into the locker room. Tori Harrison and Tyra Verner had a pair of first-half baskets each.

Neither team scored until three minutes into the third as Verner broke the drought with a pair of free throws to cut it to 27-12.

The Lady Feds extended their lead to 33-12, but Hamilton finished the third with five quick points, which included a steal and a basket by Verner and a layup by Harrison.

The Lady Lions kept the run going and stretched it to 12-0 as Harrison and Alexia Ware hit three-pointers. Ware’s trey cut the lead to single digits at 33-24.

Caledonia was able to stretch that advantage back out before Jabria Randle came through with a basket to make it 35-27. Verner followed her with a free throw, and Harrison grabbed a steal and dished it off to Ware, who made it a five-point game at 35-30.

The Lady Feds iced the win with a pair of late baskets, including one with just 12 seconds to go.

Verner finished as Hamilton’s leading scorer with 12 points, while Harrison chipped in another 10 points and Ware had eight.

“Kylie Springfield came in and that allowed Tori to move back to our natural position at guard, and that helped us to get back in the game because she needed to be able to press,” Sue Verner said. “Our seniors got after it in the second half, and defense is what really helped us. We still have to fix some things on offense. We have some things going on offense, but it was defense that got us back in the game. I told them I knew they were tired, but you should never slack on defense. Work hard on defense and find your breaks on offense.”

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