Hampshire adjusts, eliminates Rochelle
The balance of power shifted in Monday's Class 3A Kaneland regional play-in game once Hampshire adjusted at halftime to what Rochelle was doing.
The Whip-Purs changed their method of defending 3-pointers and reduced Rochelle's offensive rebounding in the second half to erase a 27-21 halftime deficit and win 54-48.
No. 3 Hampshire (17-9) advances to Wednesday's regional semifinal against No. 2 Kaneland (16-9). No. 6 Rochelle ended its season with a record of 8-18.
The Hubs connected on 5 of 19 shots from 3-point range in the first half, but the Whips held them to 1-of-20 shooting from beyond the arc in the last two quarters.
"We got a little more physical and we helped out more (on 3-pointers) because fighting through screens wasn't working in the first half," said Hampshire guard Shyler Ralphs. "It was switching at the end of the game that saved us.
Hampshire bolted from the gate in the third quarter for an 8-0 run to take the lead. Senior guard Justin Bieber opened the surge with a jump shot, senior forward Ryan Burke stole the ball and broke away for a layup, Ralphs went coast-to-coast after a defensive rebound to tie the game at 29, and sophomore Tyler Watzlawick scored inside to give the Whip-Purs their first lead since early in the first quarter.
The Hubs took the lead six more times, but the Whips tied the game on each occasion. After Rochelle grabbed a seventh lead on senior Kyle Furman's inside bucket with 5:43 to play, Burke put Hampshire ahead for good with a 3-pointer from the left wing.
"We just wanted to spread the floor," Burke said. "Justin drove and made the play, and I just put the shot down."
Freshman Shane Hernadez played a key role for Hampshire down the stretch. Playing in place of Watzlawick, who was slowed by a nagging ankle injury, Hernandez scored a pair of key baskets, the second of which kept Hampshire ahead 48-45 with 2:22 to play.
After Shyler Ralphs split 2 free throws, Hernandez blocked a Rochelle shot at the other end and grabbed a defensive rebound with 53.3 seconds remaining.
"For me, playing like this means a lot because this was a big game for us," Hernandez said.
"He's a real good asset to our team," Ralphs said.
Ralphs sank 2 bonus free throws to give Hampshire a 51-45 lead with 53 seconds left. The Whip-Purs weathered Rochelle's only 3-pointer of the second half by freshman Greg Prusator (team-high 15 points), and they put the game away when sophomore Brock Ralphs splashed a pair from the free-throw line with 19.8 left.
Though the game plan wasn't working to perfection early, the Whips fought back to play another day.
"The plan was to keep them off the offensive glass and cut our freaking turnovers down," Barnett said. "I mean, we had 10 (turnovers) in the first half and gave them 7 offensive boards. You don't give a team like that 17 new chances. I think we limited the turnvovers to 5 in the second half.
"They still had 5 offensive boards but a team that shoots from that far out, there's going to be long rebounds. I understand that; it doesn't mean I have to like it."
Bieber finished with 12 points for Hampshire, which attempted only three 3-pointers. Hernandez added 8 points and 5 rebounds.
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