ONEIDA | Not since the start of the postseason — not since a Jan. 30 loss at York Institute, in fact — had a team stayed within 20 points of Oneida.
Maybe that’s why, when Hampton put the Indians in a vice in the third quarter of Monday’s substate game, Oneida wasn’t able to adequately respond.
Or, maybe, Hampton was simply that good.
After all, the Bulldogs finished in the Final Four at the state tournament last year, narrowly losing to East Robertson, and returned almost everyone. Having to travel for a substate game was unexpected for Hampton before it lost twice to University High in the postseason.
Whatever the reason, the Bulldogs looked like a state title contender in the second half of Monday’s game at OHS Gymnasium, pulling away for a 73-55 win over the Indians to end Oneida’s season.
“They were the windshield and we were the bug,” Oneida coach Jacob King said after Hampton shot an improbable 67% from the field in the second half. “They just got hot.”
Both teams played excellent defense in the first half. Oneida jumped out to a 7-2 lead before Hampton used a time out and then went on a 10-0 run. The Indians led only once after that, but it was a tight game at halftime; the Bulldogs led 32-30.
The second half would be much different, though. Hampton continued to play fantastic defense — in fact, the Bulldogs’ defense may have been even better in the second half than in the first half — while also making adjustments that made them seemingly unstoppable on the offensive end.
The lead grew to nine points before Oneida used a timeout, then swelled to 15 points before the Indians closed the third quarter on a 5-2 run. The lead continued to grow in the fourth quarter; Hampton eventually led by 25 points with three and a half minutes to play.
Oneida didn’t play poorly, but did shoot only 36% in the second half after a 55% shooting effort in the first half. The Indians turned the ball over 16 times. Mason Keeton finished with 16 points but no one else scored in double figures.
Hampton, meanwhile, got 27 points from Cadon Buckles, while post man Hyaden Campbell had a huge game, with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
For most of the season, Oneida’s post game was its strength, as the Indians out-rebounded almost every opponent. In Monday’s game, however, the Bulldogs were able to dominate on the post, and claimed a 33 to 16 rebounding advantage.
Nevertheless, it was a tight game until Hampton moved Campbell to a screening position on the high post in the second half. Once the big man found a groove, Hampton looked like a team that could very well avenge last year’s two-point loss in the state semifinals.
Monday’s game was the final one for three Oneida seniors: Zeb Spradlin, Jeric Huling and Sam Bell. All three started most of the season for the Indians.
ONEIDA (55): M. Keeton 16, Gr. Keeton 8, Huling 7, Brawner 7, Spradlin 5, Rector 5, Ga. Keeton 5, Bell 2.
HAMPTON (73): Buckles 27, Campbell 24, Carrico 6, Lyons 6, Trivett 5, Anspaugh 5.