HAMILTON — The fourth quarter was what you’d expect from a boys basketball game between Hamilton West and Nottingham: intense, sharp, frantic play on the court.

But with the kind of goals West has this season, the Hornets insisted their 57-50 road win Thursday night was nothing more than another day at the office.

Since the start of 2020, Hamilton has lost four straight to Nottingham, including in the quarterfinals of the Mercer County Tournament last February at the same gym.

“Honestly, it’s a normal game for us. Just a normal Thursday night, we just wanted to come out here and win,” junior forward Devin Miles-Wright said. “Coming into the game we knew the competition, we knew everything we had to do. We just knew we put all the time into it.”

“It’s just another day,” coach Brandon Johnson added. “Every game we’re going to play, it’s going to get bigger. I mean, it’s nice to beat Nottingham because they’re rivals and we’ve played both of them this week. We took care of business with Steinert and this just ticks our next box of our goals. But in fact, there was nothing more than that.”

Hamilton is now 3-1 and has a chance to be the best team in Johnson’s four seasons thanks to his length, versatility and tough man-to-man defense.

The Hornets return three key players from last season and add Miles-Wright (six points, nine rebounds), a Trenton Catholic transfer, as well as Haas Cannon (eight points), an Ewing transfer, and his younger brother, freshman Woo Cannon (17 points). .

“Every year since I’ve been here, our goal has been to get better, and we’ve been doing that so far,” Johnson said. “The first year we made the playoffs, got the eighth seed, got a home playoff game, got a win … the next year was the year of COVID … and then last year we got to the sixth seed, got a win in the playoffs, got more wins than us. And we plan to make another major leap this year.”

Hamilton showed it Thursday, fighting through three ties and three lead changes to seize control late in the first half against Nottingham (2-2), traditionally one of the CVC’s best-coached teams under Chris Raba.

Down 10 early in the second quarter, Hamilton closed the half on a 16-7 run. The key for Hamilton was smart decision-making against Nottingham’s full-court pressure and zone defense, followed by a defense that forced the Northstars into some uncomfortable shots.

“I knew this was a game we were going to have to play together and we did,” said Miles-Wright, who had six points and nine rebounds. “We moved the ball around, got the ball open for shots … defensively, we just shut down shooters and crowded the paint.”

Miles-Wright entered the game as Hamilton’s leading scorer at 17.6 points per game, but Nottingham had a tough matchup to get the ball in the post. But he attacked the glass and was aggressive on defense — he stole a pass and went coast-to-coast for a rebound in the second quarter — while effectively defending Dom Raymond, his former TCA teammate.

“You know, that’s my boy,” Miles-Wright said with a smile. “But as soon as you get into those lines, I’m a dog.”

“He’s been very consistent,” Johnson said. “He plays with all his heart, gives everything he’s got, and he calms us down with a lot of big buckets, big rebounds or just effort, energy plays — we call them ‘work plays.’ He reassures us with this only because he always strives to do the right thing. He doesn’t care if he scores, rebounds, steals – whatever – he just wants to play for us to win.”

Despite shooting 14 fewer free throws than Nottingham (8-for-14 compared to 10-for-28), Hamilton made a season-high seven 3-pointers: four by Wu Cannon, two by sophomore Amir Wheeler and one from junior Mehi Lott .

One of Wu Cannon’s timely 3-pointers gave Hamilton a stunning 47-32 lead in the fourth quarter, a breakthrough Johnson believed was only a matter of time.

“He’s shown us since the summer that he can do it,” Johnson said. “After maybe the first two weeks of practice, I think he’s finally getting used to high school basketball on the varsity and he’s having a good time and he’s mentally prepared for it, so he’s earned it, he’s earned it. He will have many more important games to play as our season continues.”

JP Dickerson scored 19 points and Jordan Raba added 16 for Nottingham, which was plagued by poor free-throw and 3-point shooting.

Johnson praised Dickerson for playing “extremely hard” in the paint when the Northstars were down eight points with less than a minute left. Joe Lemley’s 3-pointer at the buzzer was the final margin.

“That’s what we’ve been preparing for, especially in these rivalry games, the first thing, and then the second thing, if the crowd is big, the game is sold out,” Johnson said. “You have to be mentally tough and we did that. The last two minutes were very chaotic, sharp, and we stayed composed and calm. This is something we want to continue to do. Three of the four games so far have been sold out, so you have to get used to it.”


W Cannon 6-2-18, H Cannon 2-4-8, Lott 2-2-7, Wright-Miles 3-0-6, Wheeler 3-0-8, Barber 2-0-4, Buford 3 -0-6.

Results — 21-8-57.


Dickerson 6-7-19, Alexander 1-0-3, Raba 7-1-16, Lemley 2-2-8, Miller 1-0-2, Raymond 1-0-2.

Amounts — 18-10-50.

Hamilton (3-1) 10 16 13 18 — 57

Nottingham (2-2) 9 8 13 20 — 50

3-pointers: W. Cannon 4, Wheeler 2, Lott (N), Lemley 2, Alexander, Raba (N).

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