HAMPSHIRE – At the crucial point in a tight game, everything became apparent which team is riding a long winning streak and which one is searching to find itself.
Hampshire, which has won eight in a row, faced its largest deficit against Crystal Lake South late in the third quarter, but turned that around in a few pivotal minutes.
South, now on a three-game skid, went more than 5 minutes without a basket in the fourth quarter to fall, 54-49, in a Fox Valley Conference crossover boys basketball game Tuesday night.
Hampshire guard Brendan Waterworth hit perhaps the most important shot of the game, a 3-pointer from the right corner with 6:25 remaining, that put the Whip-Purs (8-1) up for good at 38-37. Waterworth’s shot came in the middle of a 15-3 run as Hampshire went from down 34-29 to ahead 44-37.
“We were kind of struggling in the half-court game,” said Waterworth, who scored 14 points. “We needed some points, so I found a spot and was ready to shoot. I felt like it was one of those big shots. It kept our confidence going.”
Center Shane Hernandez tossed in nine of his game-high 15 points in the fourth quarter for the Whips.
“Mostly we just wanted to keep our composure, stay calm and run our offense,” Hernandez said. “And stay with it on defense. We knew this wasn’t going to be a big offensive game.”
Hampshire coach Bob Barnett called a lot of the offense for the first three quarters “ugly,” for both sides. The Whips hit 5 of 8 field goals and nailed 12 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter. Waterworth’s 3 came in transition off a pass from Tyler Crater.
“I told Brendan not to get his third foul in the third quarter,” Barnett said. “But he did and had to sit, so he was well-rested to hit that 3. It was one of those grind-it-out games. That was a good job to get down the floor and spot up for a 3. That gave us some momentum.”
Before Waterworth’s shot, it looked like it would be close all the way. Nick Geske hit a 3 for South (2-5) for a 32-29 lead, then hit another early in the fourth for a 37-33 lead. The Gators did not score again until there was 2:11 to go.
“We were up three points there, with the ball, and we didn’t convert,” Gators coach Matt LePage said. “We didn’t get back in transition on that 3 and that hurt. We just can’t seem to make the big shot to get us more confidence.”
Alex Bartusch led South with 13 points and hit two 3s. Austin Rogers added nine points and Eric Schiller grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. Ryan Cork scored 11 for the Whips, and Hernandez and Crater each had nine rebounds.
“We’re getting in position to win, but winning teams win those games,” LePage said. “We have to learn how to reverse our fortune a little bit.”