At some point, when you're having some heck of a week, something has to give.
So Tyler Crater gave in. He cracked a smile. Shrugged a tad, too. All the Hampshire senior could do was flash a Jordanesque grin as he hustled back on defense.
As the final seconds wound down in the third quarter at Grayslake North, Crater canned a long, backpedaling 3-pointer with a defender's hand in his face.
"We were on a run," Crater said. "I was running down the court and Brendan (Waterworth) saw me. I was like, 'I'm going to put it up.' I knew if I made it, Coach wouldn't be mad. But I knew if I missed it, he'd be like, 'You got to run some clock.' But it went in, so he was happy."
Hampshire coach Bob Barnett and the Whip-Purs were one smiling bunch after pulling away for a 76-57 win in a Fox Valley Conference Fox Division matinee Saturday.
Crater's game-high 27 points matched the same number of points he dropped on South Elgin in an overtime win Wednesday night. He shot 8 of 14 from the floor and 8 of 8 from the foul line, as Hampshire (19-4, 7-2) defeated Grayslake North (13-10, 3-6) for the second time in three weeks.
"Between them and Crystal Lake Central, that's about as good as it gets," said coach Todd Grunloh, whose Knights have lost three in a row for the first time this season.
A.J. Fish led Grayslake North with 22 points, and his 3-pointer along with a pair from fellow senior Danny Mateling (13 points) helped stake the home team to an early lead. The Knights led by as many as 10 points in the opening quarter and took a 20-14 edge into the second quarter.
"We contested shots in the first quarter that fell," Barnett said. "The second quarter, they didn't fall."
"We came out hot, and then you just try to extend the lead as much as you can," Grunloh said. "You know they're eventually going to make shots. They're too good. They have too many weapons not to make some shots."
Crater's tough turnaround jumper and a bucket in the lane by Waterford (10 points, two 3s) helped get Hampshire going offensively late in the first quarter.
Ryan Cork scored 8 of his 20 points in the second quarter in helping the Whip-Purs outscore the Knights 19-9 to take a 33-29 lead into the break. Hampshire then came out hot to start the second half and didn't relent. The visitors hit 7 of 13 shots in the third and made 6 of 7 in the fourth. Crater's third 3-pointer of the game had the Whip-Purs up 66-43 with 5:26 left in the game.
"That's fun basketball when you're on a run like that," said Crater, who scored 11 points in the third, hitting 6 of 6 free throws, and also finished with 4 rebounds and 3 steals. "After not playing as well in the first quarter, from then on, we played together and played well."
Grayslake North likes to push the tempo and score in transition. Knights point guard Nick Carmody (11 points) hit three 3s in the second half. But Hampshire's ability to keep knocking down shots prevented the Knights from ever getting into any consistent flow.
Hampshire center Shane Hernandez finished with 7 points and 7 rebounds.
"At halftime, we changed some things defensively, and that took them out of their offensive rhythm," said Barnett, whose team switched to a triangle-and-two to help keep the ball out of the hands of Fish and Mateling.
"I thought, overall, we did a great job in the second half."