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Whips win in Barnett’s return

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HAMPSHIRE – Hampshire boys basketball coach Bob Barnett is certain he will modify how he approaches games on the sideline after what happened three weeks ago.

“After this occurred, you change your outlook on a lot of things,” said Barnett, who suffered two heart attacks the morning of Nov. 20. “I’m not going to be the ogre I was before. I’m going to have some fun with it.”

Barnett had no cause to get worked up Tuesday night when he returned to the bench as the Whip-Purs took care of Marengo, 52-38, in their nonconference game. Hampshire (6-1) led by double digits the entire second half to keep its distance from the Indians (2-6).

Afterward, Barnett emerged from the locker room with a smile and invited reporters into his office rather than talking in the hallway. “Can I sit down?” he asked. “I’m a little tired.”

Barnett fell ill on the morning of Hampshire’s season opener and was examined at school before a 911 call was made. He was taken to Elgin’s Provena Saint Joseph Hospital and while there had two heart attacks. The doctor told Barnett if he had just gone home, he likely would have died.

Barnett returned to school and practice Monday, although he ducked out of practice a little early because of fatigue.

“It was a nice, solid win to ease him back in,” said Hampshire forward Tyler Crater, who had game-highs of 25 points and 11 rebounds. “It was kind of different without him. It’s good to have him back there.”

Barnett maintained close contact with his players while he was absent and resting at home.

“I tried not to talk about basketball if I texted him,” Crater said. “I just wanted to make sure he was getting better.”

The Whips helped Barnett’s spirits by winning five of their first six games. Marengo closed the gap to 20-16 midway through the second quarter, but Hampshire scored seven unanswered points and led 29-20 at halftime.

“You saw the difference between a senior-laden experienced team and a young, inexperienced team,” Marengo coach Dave Pettit said. “We played hard though. Crater’s a load and they had a little boost from coach Barnett on the bench. That gave them a little bit extra.”

Barnett learned his heart had a crack in the anterior wall and he will take medication for that the rest of his life. He was a little nervous Tuesday knowing what was in store.

“My wife (Marcie) came up to me before the game and gave me a kiss and said my face looked red and I needed to relax,” Barnett said.

There were times when Barnett forgot just what he had and had not installed before his unplanned hiatus.

“They put in a play when I was gone and we were coming out of a timeout and said they wanted to run it,” Barnett said. “I said if they knew it, run it. And we scored.”

Adam Rogutich led Marengo with 12 points.

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