Looking at the 52-43 final score and assuming that Hampshire cruised past Woodstock North in the final of the Class 3A Hampshire girls basketball regional Friday night would be a serious mistake.
The Whip-Purs faced plenty of adversity, some dished out by the Thunder, and some of their own making. But they gritted it out to win their fourth straight regional title and advance to the Sycamore sectional, where they will face Kaneland (19-9) at 8:10 p.m. Monday.
Grace Jakubowski came off the bench to score 16 points, including 3 big 3-pointers and some crucial free throws down the stretch for Hampshire.
Michelle Dumoulin scored 14 points, and Jennifer Dumoulin had 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists for Hampshire (17-14).
"We played hard defense and we laid our hearts on the floor," said Jakubowski. "We don't want this thing over and I think we really showed it."
The Whip-Purs missed their first 10 shots as the Thunder roared to a 5-0 lead. But Jakubowski rebounded her own miss and drained a 3-pointer to start a 21-3 run that put Hampshire ahead to stay.
"At the beginning of the game I was a little nervous," said Hampshire coach Ed Haugens. "We were a little bit too jacked up and the shots we were taking weren't within the offense. But once the girls calmed down, things started to work better for us."
"We had a couple of little 'break-aparts,' " said Michelle Dumoulin, "but, you know what, we're going to learn from this, and hopefully we can take some more steps forward."
Woodstock North (17-12) would never let the Whip-Purs get comfortable. Sami Ahr nearly willed the Thunder back into the game, scoring a game-high 21 points and grabbing 7 rebounds to go with a number of hustle plays that can't be quantified in a box score.
A basket by Haylee Nutter got North within 28-23 early in the third quarter, but the Whips responded with the first of a series of miniruns that kept them safely ahead.
With Woodstock North still nipping at the Whip-Purs' heels, Jakubowski made 5 key free throws down the stretch.
Tiffany Bentley added 6 points and 6 rebounds, and Elizabeth Panzica grabbed 7 boards for Hampshire, which outrebounded Woodstock North 31-16.