ALGONQUIN – Hampshire needed to find a way to win again.
The Whip-Purs had battled to different leads for much of Tuesday night before Jacobs came back to tie or take a lead each time. That was the flow of the game, and with the score tied at 35 with more than four minutes left in the game, the Whip-Purs needed one last run.
Hampshire found it, finishing the game with a 9-4 run to hold off another Jacobs rally and win, 44-39, in Fox Valley Conference play.
“We’re finding ways,” Hampshire coach Mike Featherly said. “Guys are stepping up, each night different guys. We’re just finding ways to win games.”
Hampshire’s Tristan Villarreal knocked down a shot and a free throw, and Miles Wiggins hit a shot to make it 40-35 Hampshire with 2:10 left in the game. Jacobs’ Isiah Jackson hit a 3-pointer to make it 42-39 Hampshire with 16 seconds left, but Joey Costabile hit two free throws to put the game away.
Costabile led Hampshire with 13 points and brought in six rebounds, and Adam Ugochukwu finished with 11 points and three rebounds. Kevin Dela Paz tallied seven points.
Featherly thought Hampshire’s (9-11, 6-3 FVC) interior passing and fundamental play helped his team finish with a game-winning run. He liked the way his team responded to each run Jacobs went on and was proud of the way the Whip-Purs came together to secure the win.
“I think we just came together as a team to play together,” Costabile said. “We limited their runs to five, six points instead of letting them get a huge 10-, 15-point run.”
Nick McCoy led Jacobs with 15 points and five rebounds while Jackson scored nine points. Jackson Martucci finished the night with eight points.
Jacobs (3-17, 1-7) lost its sixth straight game as it once again failed to find consistency at the end of the game. The Golden Eagles had been in this spot before and hadn’t found a way to make a winning play to put the game away.
Jacobs has battled injuries and illness for much of the season, which has taken the players away from practicing together as a full unit.
With a group that hasn’t worked together in critical moments, it’s been hard for Jacobs to find a way to make a winning play.
“We’ve been in a lot of close games and we keep talking about everyone needing to make a play,” Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. “Down the stretch of these close games, we’re not making the winning play or winning plays, the other teams are doing that and that’s why we’ve lost a number of these down the stretch in this manner.”
Jacobs will try to end its losing streak against Cary-Grove on Friday, while Hampshire will travel to Burlington Central on Friday.
Wins like Tuesday’s are important for Featherly and the Whip-Purs because it shows the group there’s still more work left to be done before the postseason starts.
“We have to grow as a team,” Featherly said. “We better not be done getting better.”