AURORA – Fifth-seeded Hampshire's girls basketball team played a near perfect game Tuesday and advanced to play top-seeded Burlington Central on Wednesday with a 55-34 win over Aurora Central Catholic at the Class 3A ACC Regional.
The Whip-Purs advanced to the regional semifinals ,where they will be joined by Rosary, which easily took care of IMSA 55-16.
The biggest problem for ACC was trying to stop Hampshire’s (12-14) inside-outside game of center Emma Benoit and guard Sara Finn. Benoit was on pace for a triple-double at halftime but foul trouble sidelined the sophomore for much of the third quarter. Still, Benoit finished with 13 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks.
Meanwhile, Finn was able to handle the ACC (11-15) press and routinely took Charger guards to the basket off the dribble on her way to a game-high 25 points. Finn and the Hampshire guards ratcheted up the defensive intensity in the third quarter, limiting ACC to just nine points to take a 44-25 lead.
“It was tough from our perspective to seed this regional. We felt coming in that the teams’ were very evenly matched,” Hampshire coach Mike Featherly said. “Emma (Benoit) came ready to play. The last three weeks or so, she’s really changed her demeanor preparing for games – a lot more serious. And Sara Finn is kind of carrying us right now. ”
Hampshire jumped out to a 7-0 lead behind a pair of Benoit baskets. On ACC’s first three possessions, Benoit rejected a pair of shots while altering another.
“My coach just told us why not us and we came out there and brought the energy,” Benoit said. “We just worked to move the ball around. We knew that they drove the ball and kicked so we just needed the help on the other side.”
The Chargers found their way back into the game midway through the second quarter after a pair of baskets from Kalie Soris, the second of which pulled ACC within 12-7 with 1:24 to go in the quarter.
But Hampshire went on a 9-0 run early in the second to pull away as the Whip-purs led 31-16 at the half.
“We just didn’t have it tonight; they played really well and executed,” ACC coach Mark Fitzgerald said.
Genoa-Kingston 54, Harvard 30: At Freeport, the Hornets lost in the first round of the Class 3A Freeport Regional.
Marengo 56, Burlington Central 50: At Burlington, Zach Knobloch scored 13 points and Adam Rogutich pulled down 13 rebounds for the Indians (16-10, 7-3 BNC East), which moved into a tie for second in the BNC East with Burlington Central.
Harvard 67, Rockford Christian 39: At Harvard, Justin Nolen scored 23 points for the Hornets in a BNC East Division win.
Richmond-Burton 77, Round Lake 69: At Round Lake, Mike Kaska scored 18 points including three 3-pointers for the Rockets in a nonconference win.
• Rob Smith and Ian Matthews contributed to this report.