Hampton keeps on dancing.
The Bulldogs held off and outlasted a fierce second-half West Carroll rally to take a 60-56 victory in the Class A Quarterfinals on Thursday morning inside the Murphy Center.
“It’s exciting,” Hampton Head Coach Ned Smith said. “It’s exciting to come down here, but it’s really great to come down here and get a win and kind of prove that you belong”
With the win, Hampton advances to take on East Robertson in the semifinals on Friday at 4:30p CT (5:30 ET).
East Robertson advanced with a thrilling 50-49 victory over last year’s runner-up MAHS with a game-winning shot with four seconds remaining.
Thursday’s win was Hampton’s first semifinal win since 2016.
A balanced Hampton attack proved to be the winning recipe.
Morgan Lyons had 17 points, while Cadon Buckles had 12 points. Conor Burleson and Hayden Campbell had 10 points apiece.
Hampton showed the resilience that is a mark of the Bulldog program and held on after West Carroll erased a 15-point lead in the third quarter.
With some timely timeouts, the Bulldogs were able to regroup and focus on slowing down Jalen Anglin and taking care of what Smith thought was the key to the game.
“That is all we did – we tried to get them settled down,” Smith said. “We tried to slow down Anglin, and he is a heck of a player and made some unreal shots. We always had two on him, and a lot of times we had three on him and still didn’t slow him down.”
“The biggest thing for us is we wanted to keep the rebounding edge when he did miss. We needed that rebound, and we pretty much all night.”
Anglin finished the game with 30 points.
“We were going to try and double team Anglin every time he got the ball inside the 3-point line, and just try to slow him down,” Smith said. “He is a heck of a player, and those kids around him are good players, too. They made some shots when we kicked out, and they went and got it.”
“I thought overall we kept them off the glass and got one and out most of the time, and I thought that was the difference in the game.”
In the early going, it was a back-and-forth battle as Burleson and Lyons hit early shots.
Michael Harrison tied the game at 13-13 with 2:32 left in the third first quarter, but the War Eagles ended the quarter on a 7-2 run to take a 20-15 lead.
The Bulldogs, however, weren’t going to panic.
Logan Whitehead started a quick 9-0 run that included a 3-pointer from Buckles and a Burleson layup.
West Carroll got on the board with a free throw, but the Bulldogs held the War Eagles for nearly six minutes to open the quarter.
That allowed Hampton to build a seven-point lead – which they pushed to 13 by the half after Campbell recorded a last-second shot to send the Bulldogs to the locker room with a 36-23 lead.
Hampton had 14 assists on 17 made field goals in the first half.
“Our kids all year have had great chemistry – they don’t care who scores and we usually have a different scorer every night,” Smith said. “They moved the ball around and whoever is open usually takes the shot.”
Burleson opened the third-quarter scoring as his short shot pushed the lead to 15 points.
Anglin and West Carroll, however, slowly pulled back into the game.
After the War Eagles closed within one point, Buckles and Burleson struck to push the HHS lead back to five points. West Carroll, however, tied the game at 44-44 with 1:13 left in the quarter before Lyons gave Hampton a 46-44 advantage after three complete quarters.
West Carroll tied things up to open the fourth quarter, but Buckles and Campbell hit back-to-back shots and Lyons pushed the lead to six points.
The War Eagles responded with a run to tie things up at 54-54 with 2:21 left, but Harrison found Lyons for a layup to put Hampton back up.
From there, the Bulldogs took care of business to advance to Friday’s semifinals.
Lyons had 10 rebounds to go with his 17 points to record a double-double, while Burleson finished with seven rebounds.
Burleson was injured in the second half, and his status for Friday’s game is to be determined.
Isaiah McCoury had eight assists.
Photos by Darren Reese