Natomas High Boys’ Hoops Heats Up Summer Tourney

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

ELK GROVE – It may be five months until the start of the basketball season for the Natomas High School boys team, but the 2013-14 team is already turning heads.

The Nighthawks beat Pleasant Grove, the defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champions, 52-46 in the Cosumnes River College Summer Challenge on Saturday at Monterey Trail High School.

Natomas High finished last season with a 6-18 record, but the team finished the Tri-County Conference schedule with a 5-5 record.

The Nighthawks return all but one player from last season and have added three new players this summer that have the ability to start this coming season.

“After winning six games last year, this is huge,” Natomas High coach Brian Hamilton said. “No one is expecting anything out of us even though we have everyone returning.”

Thanks in part to the addition of transfers Phillip Morgan and Cameron Graham in January and the continued strong play from Jamison Lyons, Jalen Manning and Jamey Morgan the Nighthawks began to play the style of play Hamilton envisioned when he took the job on Halloween of last year.

Phillip Morgan did not play on Saturday because of a scheduling conflict with his ACT testing time, but the senior-to-be lead Natomas High in scoring in the first two rounds of the CRC tournament on Friday.

Natomas High beat defending D-II champions Antelope High School in the opening round 59-57 in overtime and beat Elk Grove High School 49-38 on Friday to advance in the winners bracket.

Lyons finished with six points on two three-pointers. Pleasant Grove led 28-12 late in the first half before the Nighthawks went on a 22-5 run to take the lead at 34-33 halfway through the second half.

Junior Mikey Murphy led Natomas with seven points on Saturday as incoming freshman Mekhi Williams scored six points during the 40 minutes game that uses a running clock.

Hamilton has high expectations for his soon-to-be freshman guard.

“He is going to be big-time,” Hamilton said. “He will be one of the better freshman in the area. He will be a four-year varsity player.”

For the returning players, the comrade and excitement for the upcoming season is also high.

“It’s a great feeling to know next year we have a really great chance of getting a better record than we did last year,” Graham said. “Now, we have a good strong team and more experience.”

The Nighthawks will play in the semifinals against the winner of the Laguna Creek/ River Valley game at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Cosumnes River College.

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