WOODSTOCK – By now, Ryan Cork and his Hampshire boys basketball teammates know the routine.
Opposing defenses will devote constant attention to the senior guard, forcing him distribute the ball. But the Whip-Purs also have come to realize something else: They have plenty of point-production to go around to make sure Cork doesn’t feel the need to carry too much of the offense himself.
On Saturday, Cork stayed active against Woodstock North, doing a little of everything in a well-balanced 72-59 Fox Valley Conference Fox Division victory over the Thunder.
Cork continually found teammate Matt Bridges, who paced Hampshire with 25 points – one of three Whip-Purs players to reach double figures. Drew Doran and Cork each finished with 13 points.
“When I’m looking to pass more and getting my teammates involved, they’re going to be more into the game and playing better defense,” Cork said. “So really, everything feeds off of that.”
Hampshire (11-14 overall, 7-3 FVC Fox) poured on the offense in the final two quarters after taking only a three-point lead into the half. But after North guard Josh Jandron picked up his fourth personal foul early in the third quarter, the Whips were able to take advantage by picking apart the Thunder defense most times down the floor.
Cork was the instigator, dribbling into the teeth of Woodstock North’s defense. When the Thunder collapsed on him, he routinely found Bridges, who finished off possessions with easy baskets inside or by getting to the free-throw line.
“It’s by design,” Hampshire coach Bob Barnett said. “But they have to execute, too.”
Nick Herscha led North (6-17, 2-7) with 15 points to go along with 14 by Jandron and Junior Ortiz. But North’s inability to stop Hampshire proved to be too much.
“For us, it seems like when we play good defense, shots fall for us,” Thunder coach Steve Ryan said. “We have to pick it up on the defensive end to be successful and for two games, we have not done that.”
Hampshire made the most of the defensive lapses, continuing to spread the wealth offensively – a factor the Whips know can only help as the postseason approaches.
“It’s a big win,” Bridges said. “But we’ve got look to our next three games and win as many as possible.”