The ball didn’t bounce Hampton’s way on Monday night.
The Bulldogs were unable to convert a last-second shot in a 64-63 loss to Grace Christian in the Class A substate round. Hampton finishes the regular season with a 22-11 record.
“A nip and tuck game,” Hampton Head Coach Ned Smith said. “I thought our boys played their hearts out against a great Grace Christian team. They shot the lights out, we shot the lights out and battled back and forth.”
The Bulldogs got the Hampton gym rocking early.
Wyatt Lyons and Dakota Crumley hit back-to-back shots to open the scoring. After the Rams answered with a 4-0 run of their own, Jose Velazquez knocked down a trey that sparked a 13-5 run to push the Hampton lead to 17-9. Ian Kelly, Charlie Butler, and Crumley added shots to give HHS a 23-16 lead at the end of the period.
In the second quarter, Hampton pushed the lead to 12 points in the opening minute after a Velazquez 3-pointer. After Adam McClain hit a runner to make the lead 30-18, Grace Christian methodically cut the gap with a 13-2 run as the Rams pulled within 32-31 at the half.
The second half was a half of runs.
Lyons scored five early points as Hampton’s Butler pushed the lead to 43-36 at the midpoint of the quarter. The Rams, however, went on an 11-0 run in just over a minute to take a four-point lead.
The Bulldogs, however, saw Velazquez hit a deep jumper that sparked a 9-0 Hampton run and have the Bulldogs a 52-47 going into the final eight minutes.
Grace Christian countered a Lyons basket to pull within one point in the opening minutes of the quarter. After Velazquez hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 58-58 with 4:23 to play, the Rams went back up with a tough shot in the paint with 3:04 on the clock. Crumley made a tough shot to give Hampton the lead, and Lyons answered another Grace basket to give Hampton a 63-62 lead at the 1:28 mark.
Grace, however, wasn’t going to be denied. Connor Arnold hit a basket to give the Rams a 64-63 lead with 26 seconds remaining.
Hampton turned the ball over on the next possession but was able to get the Rams to the line where the front end of a one-and-one was missed. The Bulldogs were unable to get a good luck in the final seconds as the Rams celebrated the win.
“We had a drive there and tried to get the ball to Wyatt there on the block wide open,” Smith said. “We got what we wanted, but Younker ricocheted the ball. It just didn’t turn out like we wanted it too.”
Lyons led Hampton with 18 points, while Velazquez had 13 points. Butler and Crumley added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Arnold had a game-high 26 points to lead Grace.
The game marked the closing night of a talented group of seniors.
“Great bunch of boys,” Smith said. “They come in here and went to work. They worked hard and they are great kids. I am going to really miss them.”