Rochelle beats Hampshire at the buzzer
Rochelle beat Hampshire 58-56 at the buzzer in the first game for both teams at the Sycamore Thanksgiving Tournament on Tuesday, but it wasn't because the Hubs fooled Hampshire's new coach.
Following a timeout with 1.7 seconds left, Rochelle was about to inbound the ball in front of its own bench when first-year Hampshire coach Ben Whitehouse, a longtime assistant under former coach Bob Barnett, recognized what the Hubs were about to run.
"It's a play we ran in the past with Bob," Whitehouse said. "We called it home. We knew it was coming so we called a timeout so we could defend it better, switch and fight over the top. Unfortunately, we weren't able to execute better."
Rochelle coach Tim Thompson and his staff tweaked the play a bit during the second timeout, sending 6-foot-5 senior Tim Monfils to the corner to draw one of Hampshire's two big men away from the basket.
That left 6-7 junior Kyle Seebach one-on-one. He pinned his defender to the inside, caught the lob inbounds pass from junior guard Caleb Gould and put it home off glass before the buzzer to pull out the win.
"They ran it to a T," said Rochelle coach Tim Thompson, who credited assistant Jared Johnson for calling the play. "It was a great pass and a great finish by Kyle."
"I just had to make sure I sealed him out and my shot was confident," Seebach said.
For most of the second half it didn't look as if the game would come down to a final shot.
Rochelle led 26-21 at the half and used an 11-0 run to open a 39-28 lead after three quarters.
However, the Whip-Purs rallied from a 14-point, third-quarter deficit behind 17-second half points from junior Brennen Woods, who sat out the first half due to a "coach's decision," Whitehouse said.
Woods, a 6-4 junior, tied the game at 54 with a tough inside bucket with 24 seconds left.
Gould restored Rochelle's 2-point lead with a pair of free throws with 15 seconds to play, but Hampshire senior guard Xavier Bennett's strong drive with 5 seconds left again tied the game for Hampshire.
"My defender was even with me," Bennett said. "I looked for the 3 in the corner but that defender helped so I just took it to the hole and it went in."
Rochelle dribbled the ball up court, but it was knocked out of bounds by the Whips with 1.7 seconds left, setting up Seebach's heroics.
Hampshire's players tried to keep in mind that Tuesday's game was just the first of many opportunities to come.
"We were just talking (in the locker room) about how we need to keep our heads up and work as a team and not get down on ourselves when times get rough," Bennett said.
Woods had 3 rebounds to go with his team-high 17 points. Luke Tuttle finished with 15 points and 6 rebound and Danny Duchaj had 13 rebounds for Hampshire (0-1).
Seebach led all scorers with 20 points to go with 11 rebounds. Gould had 18 points and Monfils posted 12 points for Rochelle (1-0).