The Hampshire girls basketball team could come back from one deficit Tuesday night, but not from two.
The Whip-Purs fell behind 8-0 coming out of the chute, rallied within in a point and went into the locker room down three at the half. In the second half, though. Crystal Lake Central charged out again and Hampshire had no answer in a 46-31 Fox Valley Fox road defeat.
“We cut it to three at halftime, kind of clawed our way back into it and then came out so flat defensively,” first-year Whip-Purs coach Mike Featherly said. “This team, we kind of pride ourselves on playing defense — it just was not there the second half.”
In a game that pitted two teams that figured to be even based on their opponents this year, the Tigers dominated in the second half with balanced scoring and a defense that denied the ball to Hampshire post Emma Benoit.
“I wasn’t sure we were going to have to work for shots and when we did, how that would be,” Central coach Paul Lichtenheld said. “That was my only concern — would we be patient with the ball.”
The Tigers were plenty patient to start the second half, going on an 11-0 run in the first 3:17 for a 36-22 lead that the Whip-Purs never seriously challenged. Seven Hampshire turnovers in the quarter helped to prevent any rally.
“They came out attacking us and we were just on our heels,” Featherly said.
Crystal Lake Central (2-5, 1-2), which made 9-of-14 shots in the second half, had balanced scoring. Evelyn Yousel contributed a team-high 11 points and the Tigers had four players with eight points or more, including nine from Shannon Ellman.
Benoit had 11 to lead Hampshire, but was held to one rebound in the second half after getting five offensive boards in the first half.
“She’s a heck of a player,” Lichtenheld said. “She stepped out and hit one early and I was like, ‘Oh God, if she does that, we might be in trouble.’
“She did a great job on the glass the first half. That was one of the big things we talked about was we’ve got to keep her off the glass.”
Hampshire (5-4, 1-2) was held to two second-half field goals on 13 attempts.
“The energy wasn’t there,” Featherly said. “We didn’t have the same bounce in our step. It’s easy to get up for for Burlington Central on a Saturday night with a big crowd.
“It’s those Tuesday road games when it’s kind of quiet in the gym that’s kind of defining our team. We’re not there yet.”