Crystal Lake Central squeaks past Hampshire in OT
You couldn't ask for much more in an early season battle of Fox Valley Conference unbeatens than Hampshire and Crystal Lake Central provided Wednesday night.
Hampshire senior Kyle Johnson rattled in a 3-pointer from the corner as time expired in regulation to force overtime. The visiting Tigers shook off Johnson's heroics in the extra four minutes, outscoring the Whip-Purs 16-5 for an 84-73 victory.
"That ball hit every possible part of rim," Crystal Lake Central coach Rich Czeslawski said of Johnson's sixth 3-pointer of the night.
"I looked at our guys and they weren't even shaken. They said we've got this, let's beat them by more. I love that attitude. They wanted to score 100. They were there to win. They didn't play scared at all in the overtime. I loved to see it."
Crystal Lake Central (5-4, 3-0) senior Alex Timmerman gave the Tigers the lead for good on the first possession of overtime with a conventional 3-point play. After two free throws from Lucas Seegers, Timmerman again scored while being fouled -- this time the fifth foul on Johnson -- for another 3-point play and a 76-68 lead.
Hampshire (4-4, 2-1) never got closer as Timmerman finished off a huge second half. After the Whip-Purs held the 6-foot-9 senior scoreless in the first half, Timmerman scored all 20 of his points after halftime while grabbing 9 rebounds and blocking 2 shots.
"We do a good job on Timmerman in the first half, really executed our game plan, then coach Chaz (Czeslawski) did a great job adjusting," Hampshire coach Ben Whitehouse said.
The Whip-Purs started fast, taking an early 10-2 lead.
With Timmerman bottled up, Demarius Williams gave the Tigers a lift with 14 points off the bench in the first half. He finished with 16 as the Tigers' bench outscored the Whip-Purs' reserves 30-5.
"Demarius kept us in it the first half," Czeslawski said. "That was huge. He was hitting some great shots. He's always a great rebounder for us. Tonight he was feeling it."
Trailing 39-33 at halftime and 54-51 after three quarters, the Tigers pulled ahead 58-57 with 4:50 remaining when Timmerman stepped outside for a 3. It was one of just four 3s on the night for the Tigers -- Hampshire made 11 -- but Crystal Lake Central offset that by making 24 of 37 free throws to the Whip-Purs' 4 of 10.
Johnson quickly put the Whip-Purs back on top 60-58 with a long 3 from beyond the top of the key, setting up a back-and-forth finish in a game with 16 ties or lead changes.
After baskets by Timmerman and Christian Lerum for a 64-60 lead it looked like the Tigers would prevail in regulation, but Collin Woods (24 points) made a 3, and the Tigers missed a couple key free throws including one by Timmerman with a 68-65 lead and 9 seconds to go.
The Whip-Purs got the rebound, pushed the ball up court and found Johnson in the corner. His soft touch enabled his shot to drop after bouncing off the rim, backboard and rim again to tie the game at the buzzer.
"It felt good but we lost the game and that's all that matters," Johnson said. "I thought we were going to come back and win the game. I don't know. It felt good in the moment but all that matters is we lost."
Johnson finished with 22 points and Nicholas Erickson had 13 for the Whip-Purs while Lerum (18) and Ryan Mendoza (10) joined Timmerman and Williams in double figures for the Tigers.
"It was fun," Czeslawski said. "Some parts of the game were more fun than others. Two pretty good teams. They came in with a great game plan like Ben always does."