If the preseason transfers of four former Hylton players to nearby Christ Chapel were supposed to signal curtainfall for the Bulldogs’ chances in 2013, Mike Hamlin must not take stage directions too well.
Instead, the senior guard has the Bulldogs (7-9, 2-0 Conference 4) in prime position heading into the season’s final act.
“[The transfers] made us more motivated to prove everybody wrong,” Hamlin said. “Everyone was saying that we needed them. But we’re proving that no, we don’t need them, and that we have a perfect squad as it is.”
Hamlin — who is weighing interest from Virginia Wesleyan, Shepherd, and Mary Washington among other schools – scored a team-high 20 points in a 59-56 win over Gar-Field on Friday.
His surrounding cast is starting to come together as well. With Hamlin sidelined for a Jan. 10 game against Forest Park with a strained calf, freshman Dwayne Hill picked up the slack with 20 points in a one-point, overtime victory.
“A lot of the young guys had to grow up real fast that night,” Hylton Coach Barry Smith said.
Sophomore center Silas Dzanzi — whose 6-5 frame is accompanied by an equally formidable size-18 pair of basketball shoes – recently returned from injury and should contribute down the stretch.
“He has the size, he has the weight, and he has the reach,” said Hamlin of Dzanzi. “If he could just learn to develop his footwork and a stronger base, he can be a dominant post man.”
A conference matchup with 13-1 Colonial Forge looms large on Feb. 11.
When Stonewall Jackson’s Diandre Stubbs (27 points) fouled out in overtime of Saturday’s Conference 8 matchup in against Osbourn, the Eagles were able to erode the Raiders’ advantage with a few layups. And with the game tied inside the final minute of the extra period, Osbourn generated a steal.
The plan was to drive the lane hoping for a bucket, or at minimum, a pair of free throws.
But Josh Haynes kicked the ball out to Trevor Powell, who didn’t hesitate to pull up for buzzer-beating three-pointer, giving the Eagles an 80-77 win.
“[The play] was ‘motion,’ what we had been running the whole night,” Powell said. “Somehow, I was just open on the wing. I just shot it, and I knew it was a clean look the whole night.”
Marcus Huff scored a team-high 25 points for Osbourn, and the senior guard could sense Powell’s confidence.
“He didn’t think about it, he just let it fly,” Huff said. “And it worked out for us.”
In an ironic twist, the Eagles (10-6, 4-1) trailed Stonewall Jackson by the same halftime margin, 34-32, that they led Battlefield by on Friday. They fell to the Bobcats by 18. Powell’s three delivered a different result for Rocky Carter’s squad roughly 24 hours later.
“Battlefield was a tough loss, so we just wanted to give Stonewall all we had,” Huff said.