A sequence by 6-foot-2 junior forward Matt Bridges epitomized the Hampshire boys basketball team's relentless rebounding effort in Friday's 61-40 victory over Sandwich at the Sycamore Thanksgiving Tournament.
Bridges leapt for an offensive rebound and followed with a putback attempt. When his shot didn't fall, he aggressively ripped the carom from the hands of a Sandwich defender for his second offensive rebound of the possession.
Those boards loomed large after a stoppage in play as Bridges drained a 3-pointer from the left edge to give the Whip-Purs a 46-25 lead with 3:48 left in the third quarter.
Bridges missed Hampshire's first game of the season and came off the bench in the second due to a twisted ankle, but he showed plenty of jump in his legs, finishing with game highs in points (20) and rebounds (12).
"I always try to get a lot of boards and help the team out that way," said Bridges, who registered 8 offensive rebounds. "It was a great team win. It felt good to get the first one."
Paced by Bridges and junior starting forward Austin Spaeth (7 rebounds), Hampshire finished with a 43-21 advantage on the glass. Senior point guard Ryan Cork added 4 rebounds to go with 16 points, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block.
"Matt is key because he gets into the paint, he gets fouled, he gets some great offensive boards and defensive boards," Hampshire coach Bob Barnett said. "He can score, too. He's a great complement to Ryan."
Unlike their first 2 games -- a 67-62 loss to Rockford Jefferson and a 53-42 setback against host Sycamore -- the Whip-Purs were able to execute their offense against Sandwich (0-3). They hit 6 field goals in each quarter, including a trio of 3-pointers in the first quarter, two by Cork, as Hampshire jumped to a 17-8 lead.
The Whips extended their lead to 35-18 at halftime, buoyed by 14 points from Cork, 11 from Bridges and 6 from junior guard Ajiri Oghale.
"The first couple of games we couldn't even run our offense due to the pressure," Cork said. "Now we're starting to get it. We're starting to run through the offense and get open shots. And we played better defense. It really helped having Matt back at full strength."
Bridges scored 9 of Hampshire's 14 third-quarter points as the Whips extended their lead to 49-28 heading to the final quarter.
Hampshire (1-2) will face Dundee-Crown (1-2) in the fifth-place game today at 4:30 p.m.