Hampshire goes cold in 3rd quarter of sectional loss to Rockford Auburn
Hampshire junior Nick Louis came up with a steal with less than five seconds left in the first half, stepped behind the 3-point line and connected to give the Whip-Purs' a much-needed bucket going into the break against Rockford Auburn.
But whatever momentum the Whip-Purs gained from that big shot did not last.
Hampshire couldn't buy a bucket in the third quarter, misfiring on 10 of 12 shots, while Auburn padded its lead behind a big game from guard Adrian Agee. The Knights pulled away in the second half en route to a 61-40 win Wednesday in their Class 4A Rockford Jefferson sectional semifinal.
Third-seeded Auburn (22-12) advances to face St. Charles East in the championship at 7 p.m. Friday.
Hampshire finishes the season 17-17 and its first regional title since 2020.
"That was electrifying, I got excited and going into half we were hyped up," said Louis, who had eight points and two 3s. "We were like, we just need to keep shooting, getting looks. We were playing tough defense, I think they were just making tough shots.
"We kind of went downhill in the third quarter, we missed our shots, but that's just how basketball is."
The Whips, trailing 32-25, missed two wide-open 3s at the start of the third quarter, which could have given them the lead. Auburn went on to outscore Hampshire 11-4 in the quarter and grab a 41-29 lead heading into the fourth.
Hampshire coach Mike Featherly felt his team handled Auburn's pressure well. It just couldn't convert offensively.
"We make those [two 3s], and we're up," Featherly said. "And I felt like that kind of deflated us. [Auburn] pressured us, no doubt, but we just missed some open shots. ... The first half, I thought we played some pretty good defense. Hands in the face and they hit some wide open 3s on us."
"The game's cruel. Some days you make a lot, some days you don't make any."
Senior forward Aman Adeshina led the Whips with 12 points and eight rebounds. Joey Costabile had nine points, and Bailey Woods and Sam Ptak tossed in five points apiece.
Auburn was led by Agee with a game-high 24 points and three 3s. Brennan Horton Lee and Terry Horton each had nine points, and Rakim Chaney and Amir Danforth had seven apiece.
Knights coach Bryan Ott felt his team's full-court man-to-man defensive pressure got to the Whips' guards.
"There's a lot of repetitions and drill work that go into that," he said. "It's relentless pressure possession after possession. And even when it's not perfect it gets another team playing fast or another team tired."
Despite Wednesday's result, Featherly was proud of his team for finishing the season strong.
"We always competed. We just kept getting better and better and better," Featherly said. "All you can ask for is playing your best basketball at the end. The seniors did a nice job of carrying a lot of the load. Guys like [Costabile, Ptak, Adeshina], they just got better and better.
"We talked about after the COVID season, what do we want to be known for? We came up with hard work, grit, growth mindset. They bought into that, and they portrayed that."
Adeshina didn't make the varsity team as a junior and worked hard to make sure his senior year would be one to remember. He posted the letter in his room saying he didn't make the team last year as motivation.
"Last year, I didn't make the team and talked to Coach and he told me what I needed to do to come back strong the next season, and I did just that," Adeshina said. "This year meant a lot to me. I think as seniors, we built a good foundation for the underclassmen. They've got the experience now. They'll be back here."