Hampshire slips past Genoa-Kingston
Not bad for a guy playing with one eye.
Matt Llamas, his left eye nearly swollen shut after taking an inadvertent elbow, made a layup with 16 seconds left to lift Hampshire to a 62-61 victory against Genoa-Kingston in the semifinals of the Class 3A Burlington Central boys basketball regional Wednesday night.
A Drew Doran steal set up Hampshire's final possession. After a timeout, Llamas made a great backdoor cut and Brennen Woods got him the ball in stride.
"I couldn't see anything, honestly," said Llamas. "All I saw was the ball coming to me and I knew I had to make it for the team."
Genoa had a final chance to win, but Tommy Lucca's baseline jumper was long. Jake Tuttle corralled the rebound for Hampshire as the clock expired, sending the top-seeded Whip-Purs to Friday's 7 p.m. championship game against No. 3 Kaneland, which beat the host Rockets 53-46 in Wednesday's second game.
Hampshire and G-K traded runs throughout the game, but Hampshire made the last one, scoring the final 8 points. Three-pointers by Woods and Matt Bridges preceded Llamas' shot.
Woods finished with 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Bridges and Doran added 13 and 11 points, respectively. Tuttle added 7 points, 3 assists and a couple of blocks.
Genoa raced out to a 25-15 lead after one quarter. Hampshire (16-11) changed defenses and the momentum, holding the Cogs to 4 points in the second quarter while taking a 30-29 halftime lead
"I thought we did a lot better in the second quarter," said Hampshire coach Bob Barnett. "When we went to a zone, that slowed them up a little bit. They were having their way with us as far as scoring."
Tommy Lucca did it all for G-K with 28 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Tommy Hansen added 14 points.
The Cogs seemingly couldn't miss while racking up 25 first-quarter points. But the Whip-Purs immediately turned things around after the break. Bridges completed a conventional 3-point play to start a 13-2 run that gave Hampshire its first lead since 8-7.
The Whips extended the lead to as much as 5, but Genoa fought back. A 17-5 spurt bridging the third and fourth quarters saw the Cogs go up 59-51 with just under 4 minutes to play.
The win means Barnett, who will retire after the season, will coach at least one more game after winning the back-and-forth thriller.
"People want to know why I want to retire, that's it right there," he joked.