The two girls basketball teams entered the Class 3A postseason with identical records.
But all comparisons vanished in the opening minutes of the Aurora Central Catholic regional quarterfinal Tuesday night.
The host Chargers misfired on the their opening 8 shots from the field, and Hampshire had a dynamic one-two punch in sophomore post Emma Benoit and Sara Finn.
Benoit converted on back-to-back inside scores for the Whips off passes from Nikki Dumoulin and Finn, and the Whips’ first 7 points of the opener in Aurora was a precursor for the remainder of the game.
Hampshire (12-14), the fifth seed, never trailed in a convincing 55-34 victory over the fourth-seeded Chargers.
ACC dropped its fourth straight game to end its season at 11-15.
In the second regional quarterfinal, Rosary annihilated IMSA for the second time this season, holding the Titans to 2 points in the second and third quarters in a 55-16 blowout.
Hampshire faces top-seeded Burlington Central in the first semifinal on Wednesday evening; Rosary (13-13), the third seed, draws second-seeded St. Edward.
“I didn’t feel like we were the (No.) 5 seed,” Hampshire coach Mike Featherly said.
Benoit was on a track for a potential triple-double after a pulsating opening half.
The sophomore would be denied the opportunity due to second-half foul problems, but Benoit was an unstoppable force on both ends over the first two quarters.
Scoring 11 points of her 13 points, snaring 8 of her game-high 11 rebounds and blocking 5 shots before halftime, Benoit readily admitted she was the beneficiary of her teammates’ crisp passing for easy scores.
“I have to owe it all to my team,” Benoit said. “We worked the ball around and got it to me a lot. My team, we don’t back down.”
As if Benoit were not problematic enough for ACC in the paint, Finn made sure the Chargers would never get back into the game.
The Whips’ senior floor general drained all three of her first-half 3-point field-goal attempts in staking Hampshire to a commanding 31-16 lead at the break with her 15 points.
Finn then baffled Aurora Central in the second half, once again feasting off unselfish play from her teammates to score five times from close range to finish with a game-high 25 points.
“I got what (ACC) gave me,” said Finn, who added 6 rebounds and 4 steals. “The team, we just played together. We moved around the ball and got what came to us.”
“It’s nice to see a senior step up like that,” Featherly said of Finn.
As Hampshire continued to create separation from ACC, the hosts could never get on track offensively against the Whips.
Struggling mightily from the field with 23-percent from the floor (11-47), the Chargers were doubled up midway through the second quarter when Hampshire scored 26 of the first 39 points.
The Chargers, with Gabi Alfaro leading the way with 16 points — largely the product of four 3-pointers — managed only 4 combined field goals in the middle periods.
“It’s tough to explain why you would play so poorly on your home floor,” ACC coach Mark Fitzgerald said. “We seemed to be not aggressive, hesitant on offense. I don’t want to take anything away from Hampshire. They deserved to win.”
Nikki Dumoulin had 7 points and 6 rebounds for Hampshire.
Kalie Soris was the only player other than Alfaro to record more than a single field goal for ACC, whose Maggie O’Brien and Gabbie Gutierrez played their final game.
Rosary 55, IMSA 16: Rachel Choice scored a game-high 14 points, and Taylor Drozdowski added 13 points as Rosary cruised past IMSA (5-19) in the nightcap.
Nine players scored in all for Rosary, which held IMSA scoreless for nearly 13 minutes in the second half after allowing 8 first-half points.
“We have to get better every single game,” Rosary coach Jessie Wilcox said. “We have to focus on us. I was very happy with the second half in terms of energy.”