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Two weeks ago, Dionna Hamilton and Kelsey Russell were among the best players on their Bronson Middle School girls' basketball team. Last Tuesday, they were varsity players trying to hold off third-seeded Trenton in the first round of the district tournament. Bronson lost 62-30 as the six-player team – the remaining four from the original varsity plus Hamilton and Russell – could not fend off a surging Trenton team that has had their number all season. However, with an outstanding burst at the start, the Eagles did stay within one point of their rival, before the larger, faster Tigers took over.
“All the girls played really fired up,” said Bronson head coach Sherrie Schuler.
“The middle school girls had only had one practice with us, but they got right in after it.”
Hamilton started, along with the original four of Brittany Griffin, Angela Freeman, Kneisha Means and Brittni Davis. Every player scored except Russell, who was by far the smallest on the floor.
“Kelsey was so little, she had a couple of steals, and if someone took the ball, she'd go and get it right back,” Schuler said.
Junior post Moriah Smith was unavailable for districts due to illness; at the end of the last nine weeks, the Eagles lost about half the team, seniors and underclassmen, due to injuries and grades. Schuler is in touch with all her girls, encouraging them to catch up on their academics and get back on track to graduate.
“I try to stress the importance of making your education a priority,” she said.
“Sports are great, but you can get injured and not be able to play. If you have your education you always have something to fall back on.”