Hot-shooting Hampshire tops Crystal Lake South
Hampshire's only 3-point basket Tuesday night against Crystal Lake South sure came at an opportune time.
Junior Zach Bailey knocked down the shot early in the fourth quarter just after sophomore Isiah Kirkeeng buried one for the Gators.
Bailey's shot erased what turned out to be the Gators' only lead of the night, putting Hampshire ahead 52-50 on the way to a 70-61 victory on its home court.
"We just passed the ball well," Bailey said. "My team got me in the right position and I just executed."
Bailey came off the bench to score 10 points and grab 5 rebounds, one of five Whip-Purs in double figures.
Collin Woods led Hampshire (15-6, 8-3) with 13 points and 6 assists, Nick Erikson had 12 points and 6 rebounds, Keynan Davis scored 11 with 3 steals, and Jeremy Rosa Jr. joined Bailey with 10 points.
"We've been talking all season that if you share the ball you are dangerous because there's so many guys who can put it in the bucket," Hampshire coach Mike Featherly said.
Hampshire got off to a quick start. A steal and layup from Davis followed by a Woods steal and pass ahead to Kevin Dela Paz for a transition score put the Whips up 14-7. Another steal by Woods turned into his own breakaway dunk to go up 20-10 before Kirkeeng beat the first quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer.
"One thing we've been emphasizing of late is to get out and go more," Featherly said. "Tonight luckily it was good because our half-court we struggled a little."
Crystal Lake South (9-11, 3-7) got back in the game with its long-range shooting. Kirkeeng and Casey Haskin opened the second quarter with 3s, and by halftime the Gators had made seven from beyond the arc to pull within 37-33.
The Gators forced 9 turnovers in the third quarter; the Whips countered by being efficient when they did get a shot off making 6 of 8 while finishing 29 for 45 (64.4%) for the game.
"For the most part we were being patient and trusting the offense," said senior Jackson Milison who just missed being the sixth in double digits with 8 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. "Everyone just gave each other good looks."
The Gators pulled within 56-55 midway through the fourth quarter on Tyler Miller's 3 before Woods picked up a loose ball and sliced through the lane to score while being fouled. His conventional 3-point play started a 13-2 run down the stretch that decided the game.
The Whips also got a lay-in by Rosa on Milison's feed, a Bailey jumper, a Woods assist inside to Bailey and another Rosa score before the Gators had to start fouling.
"We didn't make enough shots from the four-minute mark to the two-minute mark, that's winning time," Gators coach Matt LePage said. "We battled. We gave up a ton of easy baskets for them. For us to battle back through all that, our guys played their tails off."
Miller led all scorers with 15 points, Jewson finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds, Kirkeeng scored 11 and Haskin 10.
"We show some really good glimpses and play some good basketball," LePage said. "It's just a matter of finishing and playing in the fourth quarter. Today we played 26, 27 minutes of quality basketball but it's not going to get it done against teams like this."