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Hampshire clinches share of FVC Fox
By Jerry Fitzpatrick | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 2/19/2013 11:58 PM

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The celebration was muted considering the magnitude of the accomplishment.

The Hampshire boys basketball players shook hands with their counterparts from Woodstock North after Tuesday’s 63-46 Senior Night victory, displaying few outward signs of having just clinched a share of the program’s first title as a member of the Fox Valley Conference.

Sure, there were high fives, satisfied smiles and assorted flying hip bumps, but nothing too crazy. No Gatorade buckets were dumped over coach Bob Barnett’s head or anything of the sort.

“This is too nice of a suit for a Gatorade bucket,” reminded Barnett, nattily attired as always. “They don’t have the money to pay for the dry cleaning.”

Instead, seniors Shane Hernandez and Tyler Crater made Woodstock North pay all night. Each finished with 22 points to lead Hampshire (22-4, 10-2) to a share of the FVC Fox Division crown.

The Whip-Purs share the FVC Fox title with Crystal Lake Central, which swept 2 division games from Hampshire but dropped costly decisions to Woodstock and Grayslake Central.

“It’s a big deal, especially being the first team from Hampshire to win in one of the big three sports: football, basketball, baseball,” said Crater, a varsity starter in all three. “We used to rough up the Big Northern pretty good. Coming over (to the Fox Valley) it’s been a totally different game. We knew coming in it would be a challenge. Last year we had some growing pains. This year we knew if we lived up to the expectations we’d have a shot at it.”

The title is the first for Hampshire in boys basketball since it won the Big Northern East in its final season in the league in 2010-11, finishing 20-6, 9-1. The program remained respectable last season in its first foray into FVC Fox action, finishing fourth in the seven-team division (17-11, 8-4).

“No one figured us to be this good in the Fox Valley in our second year,” Hernandez said. “I’m sure they figured it would take us three or four years to get it going. Last year we competed and this year we finished on top. It’s a great feeling.”

Hampshire took a 31-20 lead through a half against Woodstock North (9-17, 3-9), thanks to 13 first-half points from Crater and 12 points from Hernandez, who finished with 11 rebounds.

A varsity contributor since midway through his freshman season, Hernandez finished his final game on home hardwood in style, scoring 9 of Hampshire’s 19 third-quarter points to help the Whips build a 50-31 lead through three quarters.

“They rely quite a bit on those kids,” Thunder coach Steve Ryan said of Crater and Hernandez. “You think you have one stopped from the outside, then they dump it inside and score. It’s a tough combination to stop.”

Senior guard Steven Whiting led Woodstock North with 22 points. Junior Ryan Cork added 10 points and 2 steals and 2 blocks for Hampshire, which still has larger goals to accomplish.

“Senior Night is about winning your last home game, not about the season being over,” Barnett said. “I told them, ‘Win your last home game and we’ve still got some games to play. Don’t get all mushy on me now.’”