A season ago, the Hamilton girls basketball team was undefeated heading into the Section III Class D championship game -- and got beat.
And while the Emerald Knights were nowhere near perfect this season, it now finds itself in the exact same position, ready to claim a title.
From its no.7 seed, the Emerald Knights (13-7) first stunned no. 2 seed Oriskany in the quarterfinals on Feb. 19. Then, eight days later, it went to Whitesboro High School and got some sweet revenge in the Class D semifinals, beating no. 6 seed Rome Catholic 42-28 with a strong finishing kick.
When they had met twice in the regular season, on Dec. 15 and Jan. 27, the Red Wings won on both occasions, as teammates Kim Quinn and Samantha Strzepek took turns hurting Hamilton.
For this third and most important encounter, the Emerald Knights knew it had to contain Quinn and Strzepek. It also understood that someone other than Jordan Peterson would need to produce on the offensive side.
Both plans clicked in the first quarter, as Peterson, Katie Weeks and Hillary Hanson all hit baskets and the defense made enough stops. Hamilton led, 16-9, after one period.
But in the next two periods, the Emerald Knights went cold, giving Rome Catholic all kinds of time to catch up. The Red Wings could not take advantage, though, and as the third quarter ended Hamilton clung to a 28-26 lead.
Just at that moment, Hamilton's post-season experience kicked in. All through the fourth quarter, Rome Catholic was swarmed as it tried to get to the basket, and the Red Wings managed just two points the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, the Emerald Knights got clear. Peterson had her usual strong outing, with 19 points, but Weeks chimed in with 13 points, hitting on a pair of 3-pointers (as Peterson did), and Hanson threw in 10 points.