HAMPSHIRE – Tyler Crater set his feet beyond the 3-point arc and made six shots in a row. It was the pregame warmups, but those shots gave the senior the rhythm and confidence to dominate during the game.
“I always try to get that shot going early,” said Crater, who made four from beyond the arc as well as making four other baskets. He finished with a game-high 20 points in the Whip-Purs’ 64-40 Fox Valley Conference crossover win against Prairie Ridge. “It’s important that I try to be multidimensional out there. It opens up everything I’m looking to do.”
Prairie Ridge coach Corky Card describes his team as deep and energetic. That energy was on display Thursday as the Wolves (2-2) implemented a high-energy full-court press against Hampshire with mixed success.
“We have a long way to go,” Card said. “We have a lot of depth, and since we have that, we need to consistently press and get a lot of our players in the game. We played aggressive, but it was bad aggressive.”
The Whip-Purs (3-2) matched the Wolves’ energy and often got behind the Wolves’ press, creating odd-man opportunities under the basket as well as numerous fastbreak opportunities. Hampshire turned in its most complete game of the season as a result while shooting 25 of 37 from the floor and playing stingy defense.
The Whips set the tone early, combining a consistent outside shooting presence with Crater and a dominant low-post game. That created confusion for the Prairie Ridge defense, which was uncertain who to defend.
“You’ve got to credit coach (Bob) Barnett,” said assistant coach Mike Featherly, who has been stepping in for Barnett, who has been sidelined by multiple heart attacks early in the season. “We’ve been using his game plans, and we executed it today. It was a definite team effort, and when we are able to stick to our principles of playing together, we are a good team.”
The Whips’ defense was solid as they shut down the low-post scoring options, totaling 13 blocks in the game.
“We defended the lane very well,” Featherly said. “And the help side was there all night.”
So was the perimeter defense.
The Wolves’ Michael Bradshaw, who seemingly couldn’t miss while scoring a career-high 38 points in the Wolves’ previous game, found himself in a scoring drought as Hampshire’s Brendan Waterworth defended the 6-foot-2 guard well. Bradshaw missed his first four shots before connecting on a 12-foot jumper from the elbow late in the second quarter. He was limited to eight points.
“I knew he was a good shooter coming into the game,” said Waterworth, who rolled his left ankle and had it taped at halftime. “I just tried to get a hand in his face at all times and stay in front of him. We talked about trying to limit what he could do against us.”
Michael Dumoulin added nine points for Hampshire, providing a dominate low-post threat, while Matthew Bridges and Ryan Cork added nine and seven, respectively for the Whips.