Eureka College women's basketball

Tom Batters
Sara Hamilton

When Taren Martin was named Eureka College’s head basketball coach two years ago, Sara Hamilton was one of her first recruits.

I wonder if Martin knew what she was getting back then when she signed Hamilton out of Illinois Central College.

Obviously, she knew Hamilton could play.

But, did she know that she would become the leader of this team, which clinched its first-ever SLIAC conference tournament birth last week?

Hamilton has started every game of her two-year Eureka College career. She ranks in the top 10 all-time in three-point shots, but that’s really not a very good summary of her importance.

“She’s so steady, so consistent,” Martin said. “She might only get six or eight points one night, she’ll get steals, rebounds, deflections, and she’ll give everything she’s got out there.”

Last season, sophomore guard Caty Eeten credited Hamilton for helping her get acclimated after Eeten joined the team late (in December).

This year, sophomore guard Jay Stewart, who joined the team in December after transferring from Illinois State, also commended Hamilton’s leadership.

“I knew Sara from playing AAU basketball. She’s a great teammate,” said Stewart, who worked her way into the starting lineup over the past few weeks. “We have a really close team. Everybody likes each other.  Sara is a big part of that. On the court, she does so many good things.”

The next time you’re at Eureka College game, just watch Hamilton for a few minutes, even when she doesn’t have the ball.

She sets precise screens. She talks to her teammates to make adjustments on defense. She anticipates passes. She hits the floor for loose balls, even if they seem out of reach...

She can bring the ball up the floor like a point guard, run the fast break like a wing player, or bang around in the post like a forward.

All teams (well, all winning teams) need a player like Hamilton.

She’s versatile, consistent, durable and, if you need it, she can hit a three-pointer with the best of them.

Eureka 73

Blackburn 50

Stewart scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 73-50 win over winless Blackburn Wednesday.

Eeten scored nine straight points in the second half on her way to a game-high 25 points.

Senior Lisa Byard grabbed 12 rebounds.

Senior Khassandrae Brown went 7-for-10 from the free throw line and scored 13 points.

Eureka 81

Webster 65

Eeten scored 11 of her game-high 29 points at the free throw line to break Eureka’s single-season free throw record, and Brown collected a career-high 19 rebounds, leading the Red Devils to their ninth consecutive victory in an 81-65 win at Webster Saturday.

Eeten went 11-for-15 from the charity stripe on Saturday to bump her sophomore season total to 162-for-192 and break the previous single-season school record of 160 set by Jessica Reardon during the 2003-04 campaign.

Brown’s 19 rebounds were the fourth-most by a Red Devil in single-game program history and the best effort on the glass by a Eureka player since Nicole Fisher collected 19 boards versus Westminster on Feb. 16, 2008.

Brown added 24 points on Saturday for her seventh double-double of the season. Stewart scored 11 points to give the Red Devils three starters in double-figures.

 Saturday’s victory was Eureka’s ninth in a row overall and ninth in a row on an opponent’s home floor dating back to February 2011.

The win also gave the Red Devils a season series sweep of Webster for the first time since the 2006-07 season and snapped a four-game losing streak at Webster’s Grant Gymnasium.