Marian Central boys basketball coach Curtis Price realized his defensive game plan had to be focused on stopping Hampshire standout senior guard Ryan Cork.
Guarded primarily by 5-foot-8 senior guard Derreck Caldez, Cork managed only 7 points, 2 in the first half as the third-seeded Hurricanes knocked off second-seeded Hampshire 62-61 in semifinal action of the Class 3A Woodstock regional Tuesday night.
Marian Central plays top-seeded Marengo for the regional title Friday.
'We wanted to deny Cork the ball as much as possible," said Price. "Once he got the ball we wanted to push him out as much as possible, We wanted to contest all his shots. We did a great job on him as a team, but Derreck gets most of the credit. He was outstanding."
The Whip-Purs (13-15) looked to be in good shape heading into the fourth quarter when Rayne Yap nailed a 5-footer in the lane at the buzzer to give Hampshire a 47-43 advantage.
The start of the fourth quarter was nightmarish for the Whip-Purs.
Led by 4 points from JJ Lindquist on a pair of putbacks and 2 points each from Adam Pischke, Wyatt Lindell and Nick Waytula, the Canes ran off 10 straight points to start the final quarter and turned a 4-point deficit into a 6-point 53-47 advantage with 4:42 left in the game.
Hampshire, which made only 2-of-10 field goals in the fourth quarter, didn't score until the 4:22 mark on 2 free throws by Austin Spaeth to make the score 53-49.
The Canes' biggest lead was 6, 57-51, with 2:02 left on a driving layup by Adam Pischke. Hampshire got to within
1 on a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Matthew Bridges, who led Hampshire with 19 points.
"We just couldn't score in the fourth quarter," said Hampshire coach Bob Barnett, "We did a good job for three quarters keeping their big kids off the boards. But they got way too many offensive boards in the fourth and either got putbacks or got fouls. We had too many brain cramps which hurt us."
Hampshire freshman Bennen Woods followed Bridges with 14 points.
Marian Central, which converted 9-of-15 from 3-point range for 60 percent, was led by Lindell with 12 points, Caldez with 11 and Pischke with 10.