Nitrease Hamilton knows she's going to face some, tough obstacles this year on the Havre de Grace girls basketball team.
The Warriors' 6-foot-junior center scored 26 points Tuesday against Bohemia Manor, so she wasn't surprised when Rising Sun singled her out in a box-and-one defense Friday afternoon.
Rising Sun (1-3) limited Hamilton to 12 points but couldn't stop the Warriors (2-1) from winning the Class 1A non-league contest, 27-23.
Hamilton averaged 14 points and 14 rebounds a game last year as Havre de Grace reached the state final four. She may better those numbers, but she will have to work a lot harder. Other teams know her reputation for being an improving inside threat.
It's a challenge," said Hamilton, who has played only two years of organized basketball. "After I scored 26 points in the last game, I kind of expected it. Now, I'm in there thinking just let me get the ball."
Hamilton, who also had 17 rebounds, has help. Both Karen Romanelli (eight points, two assists) and Trusha Sheppard (six points, 12 rebounds) can penetrate inside and shoot from outside.
Against Rising Sun, Hamilton was plagued by foul trouble. With the Warriors ahead, 14-10, and 1:55 to go in the first half, Hamilton sat down with three fouls.
The Tigers switched to a full--court press. Havre de Grace turned the ba1l over seven times during the eight minutes Hamilton sat out before she returned at the end of the third quarter.
The remaining Warriors were uncomfortable playing out of their usual positions on the press break. With Hamilton out, forward Sheppard moved to center while swing player Romanelli moved to power forward.
"It's hard for us, but we have to learn we can't rely on her (Hamilton) all the time," said Romanelli, who has played recreation basketball for nine years.
The, Tigers outscored Havre de Grace, 10-3, to take a 20-17 lead, so coach Sheilah Collins brought Hamilton back with 1:21 left the third quarter.
"I didn't want to play her at all until the fourth quarter," said the second-year coach. "If three (fouls) went to five, it might have been a big difference."
Hamilton scored six of her points the rest of the way and the Warriors finished off the game with an eight-point run. Rising Sun got the first basket of the quarter and didn't score again.
Aside from her top three players and sophomore guard Bobbi Zachry, Collins has almost no experience. Renee Staley, however, -came off the bench to play strong defense in the second half.