Sinking 3-for 3: Hammett makes crucial free throws to seal win for Lady Tigers

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 26, 2018

Three shots for No. 3 with three seconds left — it’s all routine for Jefferson County High School’s Kaiyln Hammett.

Hammett sank all three free throws in the final seconds of a tie game, leading the Lady Tigers to a 48-45 victory over Hazlehurst Thursday night.

“I knew I was going to make it. I had no doubt I wasn’t going to miss,” Hammett said. “I just knew.”

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Hammett was not only confident in her abilities — ending the game with 18 points — but in that of her teammates as she tallied seven assists.

In a game not expected to be easy, Jefferson County coach Flora McKnight said, it was a relief to have Hammett.

“I just try to get my girls to go out there with as much energy as possible, but it comes down to free throws win ball games,” she said. “If I had a choice for who to shoot them, it would be her.

“She plays with a lot of emotion for 32 minutes. What can you say? I’m glad I’ve got her on my team.”

Hammett prefers not to score, however, passing to her teammates for just about every kind of shot. From floaters to jumpers, simple layups to off the glass, the Lady Tigers needed it all.

“When I come down the court, I always look for my teammates,” she said. “I don’t want to score so if they are covered, then I take my shot. But usually, when I drive all the defenders come to me so it’s easy to see the open shots and I just dish it off to them.”

And the rest of the Lady Tigers know the passes are coming, too.

“We already know she’s going to pass it, you just have to know where to catch it,” senior Antrell Gales said.

Gales ended the game with 10 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, but it’s Hammett’s leadership that Jefferson County needs to keep everything together, Gales said.

“She’s just amazing. I’m glad I wasn’t on the line,” she said. “She’s not totally strict, but she knows when to be serious. It’s a good environment that makes you comfortable.”

Jefferson County also had help from Dea’breaun Turner with 11 points and eight rebounds, and she agreed it was a team effort.

“That’s how we win,” she said. “Everyone has to contribute, and it feels great.”

Great indeed, as the Lady Tigers (18-3, 3-1) are now in the driver’s seat to stay near the top of MHSAA Region 7-3A. They next play at 6 p.m. Tuesday when they host Port Gibson — their only district loss so far this season.
“We knew we had to get this one,” McKnight said. “It’s not over. We have a big game Tuesday, but I told my girls to celebrate this game because they deserve it.”

Hazlehurst (boys) 59, Jefferson County 53, OT

Jefferson County dropped its district record to 2-2 Thursday night with a 59-53 overtime loss to Hazlehurst.

Rashard Short led the Tigers with 19 points, while Richo Jackson had 12.