The 2023 TSSAA Class A State Champions reside in Hampton.
The Bulldogs weren’t going to be denied and outlasted Middleton to take a 51-43 victory in the Class A State Championship game on Saturday inside the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro.
It is the program’s second state title as the first came in 1960.
“Honestly, it is thrilling and exciting,” Hampton’s Hayden Campbell said. “I can’t really find the words to get across right now – I am in such a shock.”
For Hampton Head Coach Ned Smith, a state title has been a long time coming.
“It’s awesome, it’s awesome – I played in the 1992 semifinals, and when I left I said, I’m going to win one of those,” Smith said of a State Championship. “It took me about 30 years, but thank the Lord for the opportunity and the time I’ve spent with not just these guys, but 26 years of coaching these kids and playing hard.”
“It’s not just winning it, but those kids that I’ve coached and I hope I’ve helped – they all mean a lot to me.”
The players were quick to celebrate the fact this was the team that was able to give Smith his first Championship.
“It means the world to me because he works so hard for this,” Hampton Senior Cadon Buckles said. “No one will ever know the time and hours he spends watching film, going over scouting, and just everything he does for us. So, it really does mean a lot to get to this point for him.”
“He’s been so good to us and he’s such a good coach. I am thankful to have him and we are all so thankful. We’ve got the best coaching staff we could possibly have, and I’m thankful that they’ve been in my life all four years throughout high school.”
It was a back-and-forth battle from the onset.
Hayden Campbell and Geno Carrico answered Middleton shots as Hampton held an 8-7 lead with two minutes left in the first quarter.
Cadon Buckles knocked down a 3-pointer while Campbell added a pair of free throws as the Bulldogs took a 12-9 lead after a quarter of play.
After the Tigers opened the scoring to close the gap to one, Buckles and Carrico pushed the lead back out.
With big shots from Campbell and Buckles to end the half, Hampton maintained a 22-15 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Hampton once again answered shots from the Tigers to hold an eight-point lead midway through the third. Middleton used a quick run to take a 35-33 lead after three and then pushed the advantage to six points with five minutes remaining.
The Bulldogs, however, weren’t going to be denied.
Campbell hit a jumper to start a run that included back-to-back buckets from Buckles to tie the game at 41-41 with 2:27 to play.
After a Campbell jumper broke the stalemate, Chance Point hit a 3-pointer with 1:42 left to push Hampton to a 5-point advantage.
Free throws from Dylan Trivett, Buckles, Carrico in the final minute secured the win and set off the celebration amongst the Hampton faithful.
The Bulldogs ended the game on a 16-2 run.
Buckles and Campbell had 18 points apiece to pace Hampton, while Carrico had nine points. Point and
Trivett added four and two points, respectively.
Buckles was selected as the tournament MVP, while Michael Anspaugh, Carrico, and Campbell were selected to the All-Tournament team along with Buckles.
Roderick Robinson had 14 points to lead Middleton, while Jordan Stewart had 10 points.
Hampton Press Conference
Photos and story by Matt Laws