Hampton captures first state basketball championship since 1960

Published 8:02 pm Saturday, March 18, 2023

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There was only one thing on the Hampton Bulldogs boys basketball team on Saturday morning: to bring a gold championship basketball back to Carter County. First things first was a battle in the season’s final game in Class 1-A basketball against the Middleton Tigers who entered the contest with an overall record of 30-1.
After leading for most of the game, the Bulldogs had to buckle down in the second half to respond to a late Middleton charge and lead change before responding with a 16-2 run over the final 3:55 to play to collect the gold ball with a 51-43 victory.
Hampton didn’t let the Tigers record intimidate them as the ‘Dogs came out and took the game to Middleton, breaking out to a 12-9 lead at the first stop and clung to a 22-15 lead at the intermission.
Hayden Campbell provided the offensive power in the first half as the junior center accounted for 12 of the 22 points in the first half. Senior Cadon Buckles added five points while Geno Carrico added five.
The Tigers went the last five minutes of the second period without a field goal as Hampton took advantage of the cold shooting to hang onto the lead.
Middleton opened the third quarter with a four-point play to cut the lead to 22-19 before the ‘Dogs put a stop to the bleeding with a Carrico pair of free throws to extend the lead to 24-19.
The Tigers cut the lead to 28-25 with 4:56 remaining in the third quarter on a trey from Middleton but once again Hampton answered the bell to push the lead back to 31-25 with 3:13 left in the quarter on a Buckles triple.
Not one to tuck their tails, the Tigers went on a 6-0 run in only a 23 second span to draw within 33-31 before Hampton head coach Ned Smith called a timeout with 2:23 showing on the clock in the third,
Middleton tied the game at 33-33 with 1:27 to go in the quarter before taking a 35-33 lead with :34 seconds in the stanza. It was the first lead of the contest for the Tigers.
With eight minutes remaining in the contest, the Tigers found themselves up by a deuce 35-33 with the state championship on the line as Hampton failed to score a point in the last 3:04 of the third quarter.
The Tigers built their lead to 40-35 with 6:30 remaining in the contest as Hampton needed to dig itself out of the biggest deficit they had faced in the game. Middleton continued to hold onto the lead at the media timeout with 4:41 left adding a free throw to their advantage to lead 41-35.
A Campbell deuce pulled the ‘Dogs to within 41-37 with 3:31 left in the game before a Buckles basket sliced the lead to 41-39 with 2:50 left, forcing Middleton to call a timeout.
Hampton drew even at 41-41 with 2:17 left to play as play heated up by both teams with the time running down quickly.
The ‘Dogs jumped back on top as Campbell scored with 1:49 left to give Hampton a 43-41 lead. A Chance Point trey extended the lead to 46-41 with 1:32 left in the game.
Smith’s troops kept coming and the Tigers had no answer as Hampton finished the game out strong to capture the title.
It was fitting that both Campbell and Buckles finished tied for game-high scoring honors with 18 points apiece. Carrico added nine points with Point and Dylan Trivett finishing with four and two respectively.
Campbell pulled down eight boards, had four blocks, and added three steals while Carrico was close behind with six rebounds. Michael Anspaugh dished out six assists.
Hampton shot 42.5% from the field for the contest and 33..3% from beyond the arc. Also, the ‘Dogs shot 75% from the charity stripe.
R.J Roderick led the Tigers with a team-high 14 points and eight rebounds. Jordan Stewart reached double figures with 10 points.
The Tigers shot 37.8% from the field for the game, 30% from beyond the arc, and 42.9% from the foul line.

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