Crystal Lake Central denies Hampshire in Marengo title game
Crystal Lake Central successfully used the combination of a full-court press to create turnovers and a sharpshooting offensive night to defeat Hampshire 75-58 and win the E.C. Nichols Holiday Tournament in Marengo Saturday night.
Hampshire (8-5) was able to withstand nearly two quarters of the defensive pressure put on by Crystal Lake (9-4), but midway through the second quarter, the Tigers went on a 13-0 run to close out the first half leading 43-30.
Hampshire senior captain Kyle Johnson felt that some of the early turnovers might have carried over into the defensive side of the ball as well.
"Last year was tough, so we're just looking to improve this year and focus on getting better," Johnson said. "We just need to keep our heads up when things aren't going well, like missed shots and things like that. We need to come back and play defense, which we weren't doing at all. We feel we can play with them (Tigers), but tonight was their night."
The Whip-Purs defiantly beat the Tigers pressure early, finding teammates breaking inside for layups to keep the game within 17-15 at the end of the first quarter.
The Tigers then took a 23-17 lead at the beginning of the second quarter, but consecutive 3-pointers by Jeremy Rosa, Jr., Nicholas Erickson and Collin Woods put Hampshire back on top 26-23 and seemingly in control.
However, the Whip-Purs would only manage four more points in the half, and didn't score again until midway through the third quarter.
Hampshire coach Ben Whitehouse also felt that the team may have let the early struggles turn into larger struggles as the game went on.
"Early in the game we matched their intensity and we felt good," Whitehouse said. "Unfortunately, we took a setback mentally today. We just can't let the last play stick with us so much, and focus on the next play instead. I think it was our defensive transition and the lack thereof really (that mainly contributed to the loss). I just told them we need to stick together. It's easy to be up when you're winning, but in situations like this, we just have to make sure that we stick together. It's a great opportunity to learn and gain experience."
Central coach Rich Czeslawski thought the defensive effort by the Tigers was the key to the game for his team.
"We had high energy tonight and we were playing at a fast pace," Czeslawski said. "That's a team (Hampshire) that's able to score a lot of points, so I thought the defensive effort was great. We were flying around and making things hard for them, and when they were shooting, they were shooting in a hurry. This is the first game I really liked our effort on both ends of the floor. (The full court press) was a little bit of our game plan tonight. It was what we thought gave us the best chance to win tonight."