After the game the feeling of relief was in the air.
The Hatton Lady Hornets defeated Altamont 44-36 Friday evening in the semifinals of the regional tournament at Wallace State. It wasn’t prettiest win, but it was a win and now they will be moving on.
“It wasn’t pretty for sure. But, we’re proud to be here,” said Hatton head coach Chasta Chamness after the game. “Survive and advance, that’s what we did. We played better defense in the second half and started rebounding better and it really made a difference.”
Hatton trailed 21-17 at the break, but after a 6-0 run by Altamont to start the second half, they dominated the rest of the way. Hatton’s stout defense allowed just 6 total points in the final quarter.
“Our defense was a huge difference just like it has been all year,” Chamness said. “We were able to really frustrate them and force a lot of turnovers and that really helped us to fuel our offense.”
Free throws were also a big part of the game for Hatton. 10 total in the first half kept them in striking position despite their sluggish play. Another 13 in the second half really put a dent in the score.
All in all the Hornets finished 32-37 from the charity stripe.
“We shot great from the free throw line and I’m going to be honest that’s not the norm,” said Chamness. “Knock on wood, hopefully we can continue that in the next game.”
Hatton advanced to the finals of the Northwest Regional tournament. They will play the winner of Cold Springs/Tanner on Tuesday at 4 pm. Cold Springs of course being the defending state champions and the team that defeated the Hornets last year at Wallace State.
Should they meet again, they will need their 6/1 center Kami Kirk, who did not play against the Eagles last year, to make the same impact she made against Altamont. The Junior finished with 18 points and was a dominant force in the second half.
It was almost as if a switch flipped for her. So when exactly did that happen?
“When I realized number 15 was 2 foot shorter than me,” Kirk laughed. “Their big girl was in foul trouble and so when they 15 on me I was able to catch lobs over her and put them in.”
Her head coach gave her a little more credit.
“She had 18 points, she was a huge difference in the game,” said Chamness. “Our girls were looking for her and she was doing a great job finishing around the basket.”
The Hornets are not just a game away from the final four at the state tournament in Birmingham.