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HAMILTON — Hiawatha, Kansas, was all Cariann Kunkel had ever known. 

The now-senior at Hamilton lived in the small, northeast Kansas town of 3,000 since she was a third grader. 

"Hiawatha's a really nice town," Kunkel said. "A lot of good people. Leaving my basketball team was probably the hardest thing because we were so close."

She knew her family would be moving out of Hiawatha around the conclusion of last year's basketball season. 

Kunkel initially took the news pretty hard.

"You don't want to move for your senior year," she said. "But it's worked out really well. I'm happy with how everything's worked out."

She added: "In the beginning it was pretty tough, just with the school year, but sports has really helped a lot. All these girls are so accepting. I don't know if I could find this very many places that they're just so welcoming. It's definitely helped having great teammates."

Kunkel is one of the five seniors on the undefeated Hamilton girls' basketball team. 

And on Tuesday night, she was the one with the big game. 

Kunkel scored 20 points in Hamilton's 52-33 win over Western A foe Stevensville. The win pushed the Broncs to a perfect 10-0 start. 

"She's very dynamic. She's a great addition," Hamilton coach Mark Albert said of Kunkel. "She's a wonderful kid and has a really nice skill set. The girls are getting her the ball and we're getting her to try to be even more aggressive. She's that good. Her teammates are doing a fantastic job of getting it to her."

Kunkel was the lone scorer in double digits for the Broncs, but Lauren Ryter, a junior, scored eight points — six of those coming in the first quarter. 

The Yellowjackets kept it close in the first quarter and were down 10-9 with 1:13 left in the frame. But a Kunkel and-1 distanced the Broncs by four and Hamilton carried that momentum — and then some — through the rest of the game. 

"Stevensville's very well coached and those kids play hard," Albert said. "We had trouble keeping them in front of us with their dribble-drive offense."

Hamilton pulled away in the second quarter, with four different players finding the bucket. 

Kunkel made three field goals, while fellow senior Tessa Della Silva had five points in the frame, including a deep three-pointer that forced a timeout. 

"They're really sharing the ball well, all the kids are this year," Albert said. "It's a special group. This is my 30th year coaching and this may be as special a group I've ever coached."

On defense, Hamilton only allowed Stevensville to score four points in the second period. 

In the third quarter, Stevensville attempted to close the gap and scored 15 points in the frame. Most of those came from junior post Angel Richards. 

Richards hit four buckets and four free throws to give the Yellowjackets some momentum, but the damage was already done. 

Hamilton marched on in the fourth quarter, adding 13 more points — six of them from Kunkel — to distance themselves even further before the final buzzer.

The Broncs look to move to 11-0 overall at Southwest A rival Dillon on Saturday.

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Amie Just covers Griz football for the Missoulian, among other things. Follow her on Twitter @Amie_Just or email her at Amie.Just@406mtsports.com.

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