Josh Hamilton heard Central Catholic boys basketball coach Mike Wilson loud and clear.
Then again, everybody hears Wilson loudly and clearly.
When the ursine Wilson barks instruction or criticism from the sideline at the Raiders’ Mark Gallo Health and Fitness Center, he can be heard in Guam.
“I pissed him off,” Wilson said after his senior guard scored 29 points in the Raiders’ 67-47 Valley Oak League victory over Kimball on Friday night. “I said something to him that bothered him, I think.”
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Hamilton responded by hitting 3-point field goals on three consecutive possessions, helping the Raiders break open the game … and sticking it to his coach in the process.
“He was sticking it to everybody,” Wilson said, smiling as looked over at Hamilton during the postgame interview.
Wilson and Hamilton know each other well, having been through plenty of ups and downs together in Hamilton’s four years on the varsity.
Hamilton helped end a 28-year drought between Sac-Joaquin Section championships for Central Catholic in 2016, then helped defend that title again in 2017. But there was also a lengthy suspension for breaking team rules last season.
It’s all helped to make Hamilton a better leader on the court and a more mature person off it. With Malcolm Clayton sidelined with a torn meniscus in his knee, Hamilton is the lone active senior on a roster that features five juniors, three sophomores and a freshman.
Even with all that youth, the Raiders are 15-2 overall, 4-0 in the VOL and ranked No. 2 among the state’s Division IV teams – and first among D-IV section teams – according to MaxPreps.com.
“I just need to take on more of a leadership role and the fact that I need to come with my best game every game,” said Hamilton, who is averaging 21.6 points and more than six rebounds and three assists per contest. “Whether it’s attacking on offense or playing with high intensity of defense, the other guys that are younger than me, they’ll want follow and want to play with high intensity and play the best they can play.”
The 6-foot-3 Clayton is expected to return to the lineup soon, which will give the Raiders more experience and even more size.
Sophomore Nic Sani and freshman Myles Clayton – Malcolm’s brother – are both 6-6. With juniors Charles Hallman (6-4), Justin Traina (6-3) and D’Angelo Bellamy (6-2), the Raiders are tough inside and out. Sophomore point guard Dayton Magana (5-6) and guard Sithri Price (5-10) are the lone members of the regular rotation who are shorter than 6-foot-2.
But Magana makes up for his lack of height with fearlessness and a championship pedigree – he was called up from the JV squad last year during Hamilton’s suspension and remained with the varsity through its championship run – while Price pursues rebounds and loose balls ferociously.
“Right now, we’re playing without one of our best players in Malcolm,” said the 6-2 Hamilton. “He’ll bring some defense and some scoring to the offensive side. With him coming back, I think we can make a very deep run and could possibly win state if we bring our defense every game. I think that will take care of it and lead to great offense.”