Sometimes the shots just don't fall, and it's about as simple as that.
With Hampshire leading Sycamore 34-26 in the championship game of the Class 3A Burlington Central boys basketball regional Friday night, somebody abruptly put a lid on the basket at which Hampshire was shooting.
The Spartans reeled off 15 straight points as the Whip-Purs missed 7 consecutive shots. From that point early in the third quarter, Hampshire scored just 10 more points the rest of the game as Sycamore held on for a 51-44 win.
"We couldn't hit any shots," was how Hampshire coach Bob Barnett succinctly put it. "We got up to an 8-point lead and we end the game with (44). So we went on a long drought there. It wasn't that we didn't have looks. We had looks -- they just didn't fall."
Tyler Crater did everything he could do extend Hampshire's season, scoring 23 points. Shane Hernandez had 8 rebounds with 5 blocks and 3 assists. Brendan Waterworth added 10 points for the top-seeded Whips, who finished the season 23-6 but failed to win their first regional title since 2005.
Devin Mottee was a thorn in Hampshire's side all night, leading Sycamore with 20 points. Scott Nelson added 14 points and 7 rebounds.
The teams traded runs in the first half. Michael Dumoulin scored 5 straight points in the middle of a 9-0 run that gave Hampshire a 26-21 lead. After Sycamore tied it up, Waterworth scored just before halftime to give the Whips a 28-26 lead at the break.
Things looked good for the Whips when Crater and Waterworth nailed 3s on their first two second-half possessions, but then the shots stopped falling.
Sycamore immediately took advantage, as Mottee scored inside, Kyle Buzzard drained a 3-pointer for his only points of the night, Nelson scored off Mottee's assist, and Ben Niemann made 2 free throws to put the second-seeded Spartans ahead for good.
"They took a lot of things away from us that we like to do," said Crater. "They played good defense."
The Whip-Purs shot 47 percent in the first half, but just 24 percent after the break.
Hampshire had a chance to get back in the game late. Down by 5, Crater missed an open 3-pointer. Sycamore corralled the rebound and Mottee made 2 free throws at the other end. Instead of a 2-point game, the Spartans led by 7.
"That was the story of the second half," said Barnett.