Hampshire survives Burlington Central's 4th quarter comeback
Burlington Central twice made big scoring runs at Hampshire -- netting 10 straight points in the third quarter and nine straight points in the fourth -- as the Whip-Purs looked to put the Rockets away Friday in their Fox Valley Conference game.
The determined Rockets trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half but found themselves with a chance to win the game in the closing moments.
With 2.8 seconds to go, Paige Greenhagel bounced a pass to Emma Payton underneath the Whip-Purs' basket. Payton, however, was unable to grab a hold of it, and the Whip-Purs fended off the Rockets for a 53-52 victory.
Hampshire (15-8, 9-1 FVC) kept pace with conference leader Huntley (19-4, 10-0), a 55-31 winner over Prairie Ridge, with the win. Central fell to 14-8 and 6-4 in FVC play.
"It was tough at the end," said Hampshire junior Ashley Herzing, who led the Whips with 19 points and drilled two 3-pointers. "We're big on energy and feeding off each other. It's about having each other's back. You need those teammates who are always patting you on the back to get the next play.
"I think we have a lot of those players."
The Whips led 51-39 near the start of the fourth quarter after back-to-back buckets from Avery Cartee and Whitney Thompson. At that point, it looked like Hampshire might pull away. Instead, the Rockets responded with three consecutive 3s, getting one from Greenhagel and two from Page Erickson, making it 51-48 with 3:44 left.
Hampshire never led by more than three points the rest of the way.
Central got within a point of the Whips on a bucket from Payton, who was returning from an ankle injury that sidelined her the past month. Although Payton was not able knock down the last shot, the Rockets would not have in a position to take the lead without her 16 points, four 3s and eight rebounds.
Erickson added 18 points and two 3s for Central, and Greenhagel had eight points, two 3s and seven rebounds.
The Rockets got the last play they wanted.
"We knew they were going to deny Page Erickson, so we kind of had her fly to the weak side as a decoy, and we took Sam [Origel], who was the second screener, going in the opposite direction," Central coach Collin Kalamatas said. "We knew they liked to switch on out-of-bounds plays, so [Payton] was going to be wide open on, and she sure was.
"Some of those catches are just rhythm things. If she was in full swing, that's a catch and layup any day of the week. She brings so much in terms of the leadership part. She's the kid in the huddle that breaks us down. She's the kid at the end of practice picking everybody up."
For Hampshire, Avery Cartee had 11 points, eight rebounds and a block. Ceili Ramirez tossed in eight points.
The Whips were not able to execute their press defense much against the Rockets because of early foul trouble. Hampshire coach Eric Samuelson felt senior guard Lia Saunders played a key role defensively, including on the last play.
"Lia Saunders didn't show up in the score book a ton, but she did some things that really helped us win tonight," Samuelson said. "She got a huge rebound on our end to keep it alive. She was able to corral that ball [to end the game]. She was all over the place."
Hampshire still has aspirations of winning the FVC, with its next two conference games against Cary-Grove and Dundee-Crown before visiting Huntley on the road Jan. 30.
"This game is all about runs, and I think we held our composure really well," Cartee said. "We really locked in and finished it. It was all about the time on the clock and being aware of where their players are. I think we did a good job of talking, communicating and holding our ground."