BURLINGTON – Hampshire's boys basketball team showed Wednesday night one of the reasons why it's the top seed in the Class 3A Burlington Central Regional.
After fourth-seeded Burlington Central scored the first 11 points of the game, the Whip-Purs kept their cool and turned the game around for a 49-31 semifinal win.
Hampshire senior Tyler Crater scored his 1,000th point in the victory, which sent the Whips to Friday's 7:30 p.m. championship game against second-seeded Sycamore.
“I was thinking as we were in a timeout after they scored the first seven points about the Grayslake North game where we were down 16-7 and we ended up winning by 30, so I said we just got to keep our composure,” Crater said. “The shots will start falling, and that’s what we did, and we were able to climb back in it at halftime.”
Solving Burlington Central’s 1-3-1 zone was the key to the Whip-Purs taking charge of the game.
“We knew they were going to come out hot, amped up at their place,” Hampshire coach Bob Barnett said. “We weathered the storm and made an adjustment against their zone, which really worked. I give my team the credit because the listened and ran it to a T.”
Controlling the boards was also a contributing factor for Hampshire (23-5).
The Whip-Purs had more second-chance points than the Rockets.
“It came down to making shots. We struggled with that all year,” Bulington Central coach Brett Porto said “ If we can’t create turnovers and get some one-and-dones on the other end, we struggle with scoring.”
“They have a bunch of strong physical guys who crash hard, and they took advantage of us with that,” Porto said.
Reserve Matthew Bridges finally put Hampshire on the board with 1:51 left in the first quarter with a layup. The sophomore added three more points on the Whips' next possession with another layup and Hampshire’s only converted free throw of night.
Crater scored the first three of his game-high 13 points on a 3-pointer with a minute left in the quarter.
The Rockets (14-14) started the second quarter leading 11-8. Brett Rau (eight points) opened Burlington Central’s scoring with a 3-pointer before Hampshire went on a 8-0 run to take the lead, 16-14, capped by a Crater alley-oop slam dunk on a long pass from Ryan Cork.
“We weren’t expecting them to be in zone and we run that play against the zone,” said Crater. “When I saw [Cork] throw it, it was really up there and I just have to go and try and get it.”
The Rockets tied the score with two Rau free throws.
A Duncan Ozburn basket gave Central an 18-16 lead at the half.
The bottom fell out for the Rockets in the third quarter when they were outscored 19-2. An Ozburn putback with 5:11 left in the third quarter was their only points until 5:10 left in the fourth quarter.
Michael Dumoulin and Shane Hernandez both scored 10 points for Hampshire.
Moter Deng led the Rockets with nine points.