Hampshire takes control early against Crystal Lake Central
Hampshire's players felt good vibes while preparing in practice this week and it showed when they took the floor Saturday.
The Whip-Purs came out strong defensively, forcing nine Crystal Lake Central turnovers in the first quarter, and took control.
"The key was energy and enthusiasm," sophomore guard Keynan Davis said. "The whole team was into the game, which brought the starting lineup a lot of energy. It started in practice, from really practicing hard and having really good energy."
Hampshire hit its shots early, jumped ahead and cruised to a 58-38 Fox Valley Conference boys basketball victory over the Tigers at Central's Fieldhouse. The win keeps the Whip-Purs (5-3 overall, 4-0 FVC) in a share of first place with Cary-Grove.
"We've been preaching all week, coming out strong in practices from the get-go, that's what's really important for us," Whips forward Nick Erickson said. "It's hard, it's a 1:30 game on a Saturday. It's a 1:30 game for the other team too, so we know if we're the team with the most energy, it's going to be a good game."
The Whips hit four 3-pointers for the game, but three of those came in the first quarter, one each from Erickson, Jackson Milison and Collin Woods. They led, 31-17, by halftime.
"Our defensive intensity was excellent today," Hampshire coach Mike Featherly said. "We've been stressing that we have to defend. We can score, but if you want to be successful throughout the season, you have to play good defense. Today was good energy, good intensity."
Erickson led all players with 14 points, Davis added 10 and Woods and Milison each scored seven. Ryan Mendoza led the Tigers (3-5, 2-2) with 10 points and two 3s. Cam Kellman scored nine points with two 3s and a three-point play and Blake Pokora added eight, also with two 3s.
Central struggled to get any offensive flow against the Whips, who used some 1-3-1 zone, but mainly played man-to-man. All five Hampshire starters are at least 6-foot-3, which can make things tough on opponents.
"We knew their length was going to bother us," Tigers coach Joe Capalbo said. "We talked in practice about don't play on your heels and wanting to be the aggressor. That didn't happen. We played on our heels too much and if you do that against Hampshire, they're going to turn you over."
Featherly liked what he saw through the entire game on the defensive end.
"We played good principle defense," he said. "It wasn't us denying every pass, it was more being in the right spots and walling up. We played hard, challenged shots, but we didn't foul. It was good to see."