Big 2nd half lifts Hampshire to regional championship
Keynan Davis was overcome with emotions not necessarily associated with the winning side of playoff games.
Davis, Hampshire's 6-foot-4 sophomore guard, sobbed tears of joy as he accepted hugs from well-wishers Friday in Plano.
"I can't express how I feel right now. So many emotions," Davis said. "We worked so hard over the course of this whole season and we finally did it."
The Whip-Purs worked a little extra to get there.
Davis scored 10 of his 15 points in Hampshire's decisive third quarter. The second-seeded Whips erased an 8-point halftime deficit in a big way and went on to beat fourth-seeded Plano 67-49 to win the Class 3A Plano regional final.
Hampshire (21-11), which won its first regional title since 2015, advances to face Rockford Boylan next Wednesday at Boylan.
It was not looking likely at halftime. Plano (23-10) and its half-court trap pressured Hampshire into 12 first-half turnovers, and Hampshire shot just 36% (9-for-25). Plano 6-foot-6 post Robbie Taylor scored 11 first-half points as the Reapers led 33-25 at half.
But Hampshire turned it around in the third quarter, shooting 67% (10-for-15) and turning it over just once. Davis' layup with 1:49 left gave the Whips a 41-39 lead.
Davis scored eight straight points, catching the ball in the middle of the zone and taking it right at Plano's bigs to send Hampshire into the fourth quarter up 45-41.
"We made sure we pounded it down low, because they weren't playing the middle too well," said Davis, who shot 7-for-9. "We saw openings in the zone and I went at them every single time."
Davis had been spaced on the perimeter throughout the first half, but Hampshire moved him to the middle of Plano's zone in the third quarter.
It worked beautifully.
"Keynan in the middle did a great job attacking," Hampshire coach Mike Featherly said. "He's such an athletic player and what I like about him is his passing. He sees open guys."
Indeed, Hampshire got it all going after halftime. Nicholas Erickson scored 12 of his 14 points after halftime and dished out seven assists, and Collin Woods had 16 points.
Plano still led 39-35 late in the third quarter after 6-foot-8 Griffin Cross missed a shot, fell to the court, but threw in a follow shot from the ground. But Hampshire went on a 10-0 run from there, and ran away with it with a 14-1 run to start the fourth.
"It's amazing, if you don't turn it over you get some open looks. The jitters were there early and it's understandable," Featherly said. "We took a lot of contested shots in the first half. We talked about staying disciplined and we got some good looks."
On the contrary, Plano's offense went south after halftime.
Taylor was scoreless in the second half, and Cross managed just the one field goal. Sophomore Mason Accidentale, who scored a team-high 16 points and broke the Plano single-season record with his 85th 3-pointer, had eight of Plano's 16 points in the second half as the Reapers shot just 3-for-27 against Hampshire's 1-3-1.
"They do that. They get after you and we didn't have an answer," Plano coach Kyle Kee said. "We kept throwing the ball in their arms and just didn't have that aggressiveness we needed offensively. We just didn't make enough plays."
Still, Kee could appreciate how far his group came. After a 6-6 start to the season Plano won the Interstate Eight Conference title on the season's last day. The 23 wins tied the 1998-99 and 2016-2017 wins for the most in program history.
"It's been a special year," Kee said. "Winning the conference is probably a bigger deal than winning a regional because it's the whole season and the quality we have to play. When you play this level of 3A it's tough. We thought we were ready, first half seemed ready. Give Hampshire credit."