If it's true that defense wins championships, then East Hamilton's girls caught on quickly.
The second-year high school varsity basketball program won its first tournament title Tuesday, defeating Tyner 55-41 in the District 6-AA final at East Hamilton.
East Hamilton (20-10) will host Sequoyah and Tyner (18-7) will host Meigs County in Region 3 quarterfinals Friday at 7 p.m.
The Lady Hurricanes, who also claimed the regular-season championship, looked as though they were taking control of the game in the second quarter, stretching their 14-10 lead at the end of one quarter to 11 points by halftime. Strong defense had much to do with it.
East Hamilton had trouble finding its mark in the second quarter, going scoreless until Brynn Moon completed a lengthy drive for a layup at the 4:42 mark after taking an outlet pass from rebounder Jaiton Walls. However, Brittany McKinney's baseline jumper with 2:55 left were Tyner's only points in the period.
"We tend to go into scoring droughts," East Hamilton coach Derek Morris said. "Our defense played great. We knew boxing out was going to be key. We knew they were big, they boarded well and weren't afraid to crash the boards. Our bigs all stepped up."
Among them was Walls, a freshman who scored 11 points before fouling out with 2:11 to play.
Another was senior captain Alexis Adams, whose first basket came halfway through the third quarter and put her team up 31-14. After the Lady Rams clawed their way back into contention with an 11-0 run, Adams scored the last nine of her 12 points.
"When the lead started dwindling for us," Adams said, "I felt like it was time for me step up."
East Hamilton got nine points apiece from Moon and Jessica Caudle. Moon had the second-quarter basket and her other seven, and two of her four assists were in the Lady Hurricanes' 22-point fourth quarter.
"Even though our guards are young, Jessica Caudle has a very high basketball IQ," Morris said of his sophomore point guard. "She'll calm us down when things start getting out of hand. Brynn Moon played great. She did a really good job making decisions."
McKinney was Tyner's top scorer with 15 points.