Hampshire senior Shane Hernandez didn't start to think only about himself, even though he seemed unstoppable with 11 points in the first quarter and 15 at halftime of Friday night's Fox Valley Conference Fox Division boys basketball game at Grayslake Central.
The 6-foot-6 Hernandez wasn't bothered by scoring only 2 more points on free throws with 1:43 to play. Especially since the Whip-Purs had already been well on their way to a 62-44 victory and solid rebound from last Saturday's 32-point loss to Crystal Lake Central.
"I stepped up big in the first half and in the second half other players on the team took over," Hernandez said as he sported a bandage on his forehead from a collision inside that sidelined him for most of the final quarter. "TC (Tyler Crater) finally started knocking down shots, which really helps.
"With this team our biggest strength is chemistry. We're all familiar with each other and we know what each other is going to do."
Crater missed his first 9 shots in a 1-for-12 first half but connected on all eight of his attempts after intermission en route to a game-high 19 points. But even when Crater's shooting was off, his passing wasn't as 4 of the 6 assists by the senior swingman helped the Whip-Purs (13-2, 2-1) lead 27-18 at halftime.
"It was nice to see Tyler get going ... he stuck with it," said Hampshire coach Bob Barnett. "He didn't pout, he didn't duck his head and he played great defense and rebounded.
"(Hernandez's first half) is going to open up a lot of things. He's got good feet and good hands and he played a great game."
Hernandez's second 3-point play of the first quarter came on consecutive possessions where he backed a Grayslake Central (2-13, 0-3) defender down to the basket. Hernandez hit his first 6 shots before his only miss and had 6 rebounds of Hampshire's 27-22 advantage.
"The lane was just open most of the time and since they weren't doubling it really helped out," Hernandez said.
"Obviously we were more conscious of what we were going to do with him in the post," Grayslake Central coach Brian Moe said of the second half. "Then Crater gets 17. They've got a nice inside-outside combination with those two kids."
And senior Michael Dumoulin (10 points, 9 rebounds) scored 8 third-quarter points as the Whip-Purs hit 8 of their first 9 shots after halftime to build a 43-24 lead. They finished at 54.6 percent (24-for-44) from the field and had only 7 turnovers the first 24 minutes.
"I kind of felt this was a trap game and we didn't want any letdowns after last week," Barnett said. "I give the kids all the credit in the world for that. They responded well after the CLC debacle."
Junior Malcolm Reed had 12 points and freshman Sam Ruhlman scored 9 points in his second varsity game for the Rams, who got only limited minutes from sophomore guard Joey Mudd because of illness. They shot 30.4 percent (14-for-46) but Moe felt better about the strides made from a 62-39 loss to Hampshire a month ago.
"It's a learning experience," Moe said. "(Hernandez) was probably the most dominant big kid we've seen all year. But we're showing progress and that's all you can ask for."