Good luck telling Hampshire boys basketball coach Bob Barnett the 'it's not how you start, it's how you finish' line after the Whip-Purs' 53-45 Fox Valley Conference crossover loss at Prairie Ridge Tuesday night in Crystal Lake.
While Hampshire (2-3) only trailed by one at the end of three quarters and Ryan Cork supplied some clutch 3-pointers in the final 2 minutes that almost brought the Whip-Purs back in it, ultimately Barnett owned up on how he ran practice Monday, which could have helped the Whips' first-quarter precision.
"This is why I am upset with myself," said Barnett, whose team shot 4 of 11 in the quarter to go with 4 turnovers. "It's the same way we started practice yesterday: Lackadaisical; thinking we can just walk in and win a game on somebody's home court and that's exactly the way we started the game.
"Nobody was working on defense. They went to a zone and were killing us on the penetration. The first five minutes of the game dictated this."
Cork, who finished with 22 points on 4 3-pointers and as many rebounds, sank a 3 from the volleyball line that gave Hampshire a 5-4 lead with 4 minutes left.
PR (3-2) then proceeded to end the quarter on a 13-5 run and grabbed a 6-point lead into the second quarter, which evaporated on Cork's 3 from the left wing that tied it at 24 with 2:03 left. Hampshire shot a 31 percent clip on 44 shots and hit 7-for-27 from deep but got no ball movement in the process.
But that's when all-too recurring theme developed as each time Hampshire made a surge, PR put some distance between. Wolves guard Mike Bradshaw, who led his team with 17 points on 4 3-pointers to go with 10 rebounds, cashed two from downtown in the final 2 minutes to lead by 6 at the half.
The Whips closed to within one with 4:34 left in the third on Cork's 3-point play but PR opened the fourth on 6-0 run to push the lead to 7 and it peaked to 10 on Payton Otto's layup with 2:19 remaining. Otto finished with 13 points, 4 rebounds and a steal.
Cork however, went unconscious from downtown hitting three in the final 1:41, his second cutting the lead to 46-42 with 1:20 to go.
After a PR turnover on the subsequent possession, Cork looked again from deep but had to pass off after the Wolves came with a double team which led to a missed shot and a free throw game thereafter as PR sank 9 of 11 from the line in the fourth.
"They had a real tough zone, they play real good (defense)," said Cork. "If we would have came out and played harder we would have had a better game. Even myself, I need to shoot better throughout the game. I didn't hit much until the fourth quarter."