Hampshire's boys basketball team kept things competitive against Rockford Jefferson, but the young Whip-Purs just made too many mistakes to keep up with the J-Hawks, who ran away with a 67-62 victory in the opening game of the Leland G. Strombom tournament at Sycamore Monday night.
Ryan Cork did his best to keep the Whip-Purs in the game with 24 points and 5 rebounds in the season opener for both teams.
Jefferson broke open a 1-point game with a 13-2 run covering most of the third quarter. The J-Hawks eventually stretched their advantage to 14 points late in the game, but the Whip-Purs kept coming.
Austin Spaeth and Cork nailed 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to make it 66-60 with 18.4 seconds left. Chaz Johnson made 1 of 2 free throws for Jefferson, but Hampshire just ran out of time. Ajiri Oghale's uncontested layup with 4 seconds created the final margin.
"Thirty more seconds I think we might have been OK," said Hampshire coach Bob Barnett. "We're young. It's the first game, they're going to make mistakes and I understand that. But some of them we made, you look at them and say, 'OK, you've got to learn from that. You can't do that again.' "
Oghale and freshman Brennan Woods scored 12 points apiece for Hampshire. Spaeth and Jacob Tuttle each scored 7.
ML Moore came off the bench to score 23 points for Jefferson. Johnson finished with 14 and Montel Brown had 13 points and 7 rebounds for the J-Hawks.
Hampshire committed 13 turnovers, including some at key times, and was outrebounded 30-20.
The Whip-Purs led 15-14 after one period, with Cork and Tuttle scoring 5 points each. Jefferson scored 10 straight points to go ahead 25-16 midway through the second quarter, but Hampshire closed the half on a 9-0 run to forge a 25-all halftime tie.
After a final tie at 27, Jefferson led the rest of the way. An Oghale basket made it 32-31 before the J-Hawks went on their big run.