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November 24, 2013

K.J. Lawson Leads Hamilton Past Mitchell

Some nights, you just keep grinding until you make something work.

2015 Memphis commit Keelon Lawson is living proof of that. Saturday night against a game, scrappy Mitchell High team, Lawson kept battling and battling until things finally went the way he and his Hamilton Wildcats wanted them to.

Playing on the road against a boisterous, hostile crowd, Hamilton rallied from an early deficit and ground out a 77-72 victory over Mitchell in front of a capacity crowd. Hamilton moved to 3-0 on the season while Mitchell fell to 1-2.

Don't let Mitchell's record and the fact that they play in the lowest public school classification, Single A, fool you. The Tigers lost to AA Fairley, 83-73, in their season opener in a game that head coach Faragi Phillips entrusted to his junior varsity and freshmen. Not a single starter participated in a move designed to show his team that Phillips will not tolerate disobedience or a lack of discipline.

The starters returned for a road contest against AA Bolivar Central, and the Tigers ran off to a dominating 105-67 triumph. That set the stage for the battle against K.J. Lawson and Hamilton.

Each team was slightly shorthanded, with a key member of their starting line-up sidelined.

Mitchell was without junior guard/forward Khalil Spencer, sidelined by a sore back. He should be back in action next week.

Hamilton was without K.J.'s "little" brother, 6'8" star forward Dedric Lawson, sitting out the second of his 2-game suspension for being ejected from Hamilton's season-opening win over Raleigh-Egypt. Dedric accumulated a pair of technical fouls: one for slapping the backboard during a live-ball and the second for hanging on the rim after a dunk.

K.J. Lawson still had his wing man, Terrance Birdsong in uniform, but the burly junior post was ineffective all evening, scoring just 8 points as he struggled with foul troubles and his own temper. Birdsong was clearly frustrated by Mitchell's pesky defensive strategy of bracketing him with smaller players and baiting him into charging fouls (he was assessed two of them).

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