Hampton wasn’t going to be denied.
The Lady Bulldogs used a quick start and then held off a Pickett County rally to take a 78-64 victory in the BlueCross Basketball Championships Class A State Tournament in Murphy Center on Wednesday.
With the win, the Lady Bulldogs advance to Friday’s semifinals where they will take on Wayne County.
“We’ve got good senior leadership,” Hampton Head Coach Brandon Carpenter said. Nobody can turn it on and off, but we have a few sets that when we need a basket we go to, and the kids were able to knock them down out of those sets. I am just really proud of our kids. I thought that the senior leadership stepped up, and our kids just played so hard .”
Hampton led by nearly as many as 15 in the first half before the Lady Bobcats rallied to take a four-point lead in the third quarter. The Lady Bulldogs, however, answered in a big way.
“We talked at halftime about being smarter in the second half, and actually in the third quarter I thought were a little too complacent and played it a little too safe,” Hampton Head Coach Brandon Carpenter said. “We gave them a few really easy baskets that we just stepped over that we could probably stop but they were a little worried that it could be a foul and they were doing what I told them. I just felt like if we could get in the fourth quarter and it was a tight game that these girls stepped up.”
After Pickett County opened the scoring with an old-fashioned 3-point play, Piper Helle and Macy Henry opened the scoring for the Lady Bulldogs.
Hampton used a quick 7-0 run with shots from Taylor Berry and Henry to take the lead. The Lady Bobcats trimmed the advantage back to two points, but HHS responded with a 9-0 run to take a 24-12 lead into the second quarter.
“The pace of the game is crucial for us,” Carpenter said. “It kind of gets us in the rhythm offensively. We’ve been fortunate to score points this year, but we can really attribute it to how we play defense, and these kids really bought into how we do it. I am just proud of them for going out and making plays.”
The momentum continued to be on Hampton’s side in the second quarter as Henry and Helle hit early shots for Hampton. A 3-point bucket from Linsey Jenkins and two free throws from Ella Estep pushed the lead back to 14 just past the midpoint of the quarter, but Pickett County trimmed the lead to 36-28 by the break.
The Lady Bobcats had a quick start to the third quarter as they used a run to pull back within a shot before the teams traded shots for a lengthy stretch in the quarter.
Pickett County used a 6-0 run to take a 48-44 lead, but Hampton’s Helle knocked down a 3-pointer off the assist from Madi McClain to stop the run.
After taking a 50-49 lead into the final quarter, Pickett County added a quick layup, but Jenkins quickly answered to knock down a trey to tie things up on the other end.
Berry hit a pair of free throws, and Hampton scored the next nine points to regain the lead and control of the game.
From there, Hampton was able to secure the win with timely shots and taking care of business down the stretch.
Henry finished with 19 points to pace Hampton, while Helle had 17 points. McClain finished the game with 14 points.
Jenkins and Berry had 12 and 10 points, respectively.
“I think that’s what makes us,” Carpenter said of having five players scoring in double-digits. “I feel like we are a good basketball team. We don’t have one player that is going to come out there and just knock your socks off. We’ve got a basketball team – we’ve got some kids who rebound the ball, we’ve got some kids that shoot the ball. We’ve got all our kids to play hard. When you put it all together, we’ve got a pretty good basketball team.”
Zoey Nicholas had 21 points to pace Pickett County. Callie Reeder and Emerson Lowe had 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Photos by Tate Russell