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Hampshire senior Tyler Crater had plenty to celebrate on Wednesday. Not only did he reach the 1,000-point career milestone, he also relished in his first postseason win.
The top-seeded Whip-Purs rallied from an 11-0 deficit to defeat host Burlington Central 49-31 in Class 3A regional semifinal action. Crater had 13 points to lead Hampshire in scoring. Shane Hernandez and Michael Dumoulin added 10 points each.
“Getting the points was great,” said Crater. “But getting the win was the important thing. I’ve been on some really good teams here, but the past couple of years we have been knocked out in the first game. So to be able to come out on to this floor and finally get a regional win is special.”
Hampshire (23-5) never pushed the panic button when Central scored the first 11 poigame. An 8-0 run at the end of the first quarter keyed by five points off the bench from sophomore Mathew Bridges got the Whip-Purs on track.
Later in the second quarter a monster slam dunk by Crater off a lob pass from Ryan Cork gave Hampshire its first lead of the game at 16-14.
“That’s a play we work on in practice against a zone,” said Crater. “At first I was thinking that pass is way up there, but I was able to go get it. We knew this was like their Super Bowl and they were going to come out with a lot of intensity. But we have an experienced group of players and we were able to weather the storm. We just kept our composure and knew the shots would eventually start to fall.”
Central regained the lead 18-16 at the break, but it was all Hampshire in the second half. A jumper by Brendan Waterworth tied the game 18-18 early in the third quarter. Moments later Cork put the Whip-Purs ahead for good 21-18 with a three-pointer.
Later in the third quarter the Whip-Purs started a 14-0 run to pull away to a 37-20 advantage by midway through the fourth quarter. Hernandez and Dumoulin each had a pair of baskets during the surge.
“It took us a while to figure out their 1-3-1,” said Hampshire coach Bob Barnett. “But we were able to make an adjustment by setting some high ball screens and flashing a guy to the block. The kids did a great job of making it work.”
Crater joins Tyler Watzlawick and David Ross as only the third player in Hampshire history to reach 1,000 points.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” said Barnett. “Put those three names together and you have a special group of players.”
After the fast start things quickly unraveled for Central. The Rockets (14-14) shot just 8-of-44 (18 percent) from the field the rest of the way.
The outcome marked the end of an eight-game win streak for Central, which lost twice to Hampshire during the regular season as part of an 0-7 start to the camapign.
“Once again it came down to needing to make shots,” said Central coach Brett Porto. “We have struggled with that at times this year. Give (Hampshire) credit. They are a real good senior-led team. They have a bunch of big, strong, physical players who were able to crash the boards and push our guys out away from the basket.”
Moter Deng had nine points to lead the Rockets in scoring.
Hampshire advances to face Sycamore, a 66-46 winner over Rochelle.